US long distance balloon race returns
The oldest ballooning event in the southern USA, the Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race and Festival, is set to kick off once more.
The only long distance balloon race in the US, up to 30 colourful hot air balloons are set to take off from Helen, Georgia, on the 5th June, if weather is permitting. The contest usually takes two days to complete, but has been known to take four.
Back in the days of Columbus, it was believed that the Atlantic was the edge of the world. It was with this in mind that local Pete Hodkinson came up with the concept for the race, which is now in its 41st year.
Of the balloons taking off on the Thursday, six to ten aim to compete and cover at least 225 miles, which is the shortest distance from Helen to the finish line at I-95 that runs between Maine and Miami. The winner is the hot air balloon that crosses that line first or the one in the lead at sunset on Friday, 6th June.
Local events will also be taking place on the Friday and Saturday, with balloons flying for 1-2 hours. These events provide many opportunities to the visiting public, such as helping with the inflations, joining a chase crew, and riding in a tethered balloon.
No ballooning activities will occur during the middle of the day, but those visiting the festival can rest assured that there are numerous sights and attractions in Helen to keep people occupied.