09 Oct 2023

Follow the 66th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett live!

Update on 10 Oct, 16:15 CEST:

The 66th Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett is currently in its third day of competition. As of now, the Command Centre reports there are still 8 gas balloons in flight. Notably, France Team 1 and USA Team One are leading the pack and heading south towards Birmingham Alabama. With an impressive altitude of 3602m, France Team 1 continues to soar through the skies.

Two teams have landed this morning. USA Team 3 crossed the Mississippi River but ultimately touched down near Greenville, Mississippi. Similarly, Spain Team 1 also landed today northwest of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

In addition to these developments, race organisers and the event director have released statements regarding a recent accident involving Poland Team 1 near Crandall, Texas on Tuesday.

Update on 9 Oct, 18:00 CEST:

At the 66th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett, four balloons have already touched down while twelve others are still making their way eastward. They will maintain a higher altitude to avoid the thermals that consume precious ballast. The balloons are expected to cross the Mississippi tonight, covering a distance of 1000km. Tomorrow, the balloons will continue their journey towards the East Coast. Most of the balloons are well-equipped with ballast to last for 1-2 more days.

Update on 9 Oct, 10:30 CEST:

At the 66th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett, three balloons safely landed: GER-3, LTU-1, and SUI-1.

It will be interesting to see at sunrise (USA) whether the balloons managed to navigate towards the North-East, as this would open up a faster and longer potential track. Throughout the day, the balloons will aim to continue, with some teams possibly deciding not to fly during the third night, while most will continue their journey.

Update on 8 Oct, 19:30 CEST:

At the 66th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett, the first night has already had some strategic impacts. Those who took the most northerly track and crossed higher mountains needed more ballast and may have shorter endurance. Flying lower will pay off in longer endurance.

The teams continue to fly along the northern edge of a very strong high-pressure system over Texas. This trajectory would lead them towards the Gulf of Mexico in a right turn, so they will attempt to locate layers of air that will help them change direction towards the East. Tonight's outcome will determine whether or not they are successful.

Update on 8 Oct, 10:30 CEST:

The start of the 66th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett was postponed until later last night due to wind issues that arose during the originally scheduled inflation time. Eventually, the take-off from Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA went smoothly.

The 16 gas balloons initially headed to the north east directions. In order to conserve energy and avoid using excessive ballast too early on, it was crucial for the pilots to fly at low altitudes as much as possible.

All balloons managed to stay south of Santa Fe's high mountains which stand at an elevation of almost 4000 meters. As they continue their flight across different regions, teams will attempt to avoid flying clockwise around a high pressure system currently situated over Texas. Their goal is to find alternative routes for crossing towards the Great Plains in an eastern direction. To win the race, they must fly the furthest non-stop distance from the launch site.

Unfortunately, due to a suspected leak in their balloon envelope, the French team FRA-3 consisting of Hervé Moine and Christophe Blanchard decided not to launch into the night like other teams.

Follow the race