Helen’s hot air balloon race to the Atlantic is due to end today.
On the Helen Balloon website…
The oldest hot air balloon event in the South and the only long-distance hot air balloon race in the United States will begin (weather permitting) with a massive ascent of approximately 20 bright and colorful hot air balloons, in the alpine village of North Georgia -Helen. Race competitors and local flyers will take off at 7:00 a.m., Thursday, June 2, 2022. If weather conditions are too windy or thunderstorms are forecast, takeoff will be postponed until conditions are acceptable.
Residents of Helen believe that Helen, Georgia is the center of their world and that in the time of Christopher Columbus, the Atlantic Ocean was the “Earth’s Edge”. Thus, Pete Hodkinson proposed the concept of the Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race. The race starts in Helen and the finish line is I-95 (anywhere between Maine and Miami). The shortest distance is 225 miles and the race usually lasts two days. This was done in one day, while some races took up to four days. Several balls will compete in the cross-country race.
It is a race where the skills of driver and crew are put to the test. A balloon can only go at the same speed and in the same direction as the wind. The pilot must find the altitude which gives him the best speed as well as the direction towards the finish line. The race also becomes a crew event, since balloons are limited to 40 gallons of fuel (propane). Forty gallons is approximately enough fuel to last 4 hours, so balloons must land to refuel. If the crew is not there immediately with fresh tanks, valuable time is wasted while the pilot and crew try to find each other.
The winner is the first person to cross I-95, or whoever is ahead at sunset on Friday, June 3, 2022.
As the competition towards the Atlantic continues, other balloonists compete in local events starting Thursday evening around 6:00 p.m. Local flight events will also take place on Friday and Saturday. The balloons will fly around 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. each day (weather permitting). The balloons will only fly for about 1-2 hours. There are many opportunities for the public to help inflate the balloons or be part of a chase team and follow the balloon. There will be around 20 balloons flying locally.
There will be NO mid-day hot air balloon activity.
Helen offers plenty of sights and attractions to keep you busy when the balloons aren’t flying.
Hot air ballooning in Helen is a challenge as the alpine village is surrounded by mountains, national forests, and state parks. However, it’s worth the extra effort when you can gaze right above the treetops at mountains, vast forests, streams and waterfalls. You might even spot a flock of deer or watch a hawk or eagle take its meal in a trap.
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