Still in Albuquerque…

As I mentioned in my last post, the America’s Challenge race was initially supposed to launch Tuesday evening. On Monday we learned it would be postponed to Wednesday. Tuesday they told us Wednesday was a no-go and to cross our fingers for a possible Thursday or Friday launch. That’s where we were last time I wrote.

Now, after a pilot briefing last night, we know that the Balloon Fiesta wants the launch to occur early Friday morning. Very early- at 5:30am. So that would mean that the teams would be on the balloon field at midnight to prep for their gas fill, the balloons would begin inflation by 2am and the launch would start at 5:30. We would be working all through the night to get in the balloon in the air, and then immediately have to begin the chase.

Our team is still not sure they want to participate. Their personal meteorologist is giving them different information than the Balloon Fiesta meteorologist (and since their guy is not invested in the politics of the event, they trust him much more). It seems that the pilots would have only about 12 hour of clear-air to fly in before running into a storm that would force a landing- and that is best-case-scenario according to the weather information available last night. Our team isn’t sure they want to put in the effort for an overnight fill only to land about 12 hours later. Last night, the Team Calvin meteorologist said there may be a safer, better option but he needed more data and more time to look at the trajectory and the weather systems. So they are talking again today, in about an hour, and the Team Calvin pilot expects to make his decision after this morning’s talk with the meteorologist.

It’s been a lot of back and forth. Since we all got in on Monday, we’ve been waiting to find out if and when this race will launch. There has been, and continues to be, a lot of obstacles in the way of a successful launch. I guess that’s how the sport of ballooning is, but it sure makes it hard for us to know if the project will be completed as planned. And it makes for a difficult time planning our trips home.

Katie has to be back to work Thursday of next week and I have a job interview on Wednesday. If the balloon flies on Friday morning and they are able to fly for a few days, our schedules start to get really tight. But until our pilot makes a final decision, all we can do is speculate about how the rest of the trip will play out.

I should know exactly what’s going on this afternoon and I will try to update before going to bed.

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One response to “Still in Albuquerque…

  1. arikkahall

    Update: Team Calvin talked with their meteorologist at 10 this morning and then at 2pm all the gas balloons teams met with the Balloon Fiesta officials. The Balloon Fiesta came to the meeting determined to do the launch Friday morning at 5:30am, but several of the teams were very concerned with the weather conditions if that were to happen- they were pretty much set in their decision to pull from the race if the officials did not open another launch window.

    After two hours of meeting, the officials made the call to move the launch to Saturday at 12am. And our team seems to be on board with this decision. Assuming there are no other set-backs (which is quite a big assumption), our team will be flying this year. Yay!

    I’ll keep you posted (if I have internet access) of any new developments between now and then.

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