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51st Annual Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race

May 31 @ 7:00 am - 6:30 pm


The South’s oldest balloon event and the United States’ only long
distance hot air balloon race will begin (weather permitting) with a
mass ascension of around 20 bright and colorful hot air balloons, in
North Georgia’s Alpine Village – Helen. Race competitors and local
flyers will take to the sky at 7:00 am, Thursday, May 30, 2024. If the
weather conditions are too windy or storms are forecast, the take off
will be postponed until conditions are acceptable.

The people of Helen believe that Helen, Georgia is the center of
their world and in Columbus’ day the Atlantic Ocean was the “edge of the
Earth”. Thus, Pete Hodkinson came up with the concept for the Helen to
the Atlantic Balloon Race. The race begins in Helen and the finish line
is I-95 (anywhere between Maine and Miami). The shortest distance is 225
miles and the race usually takes two days. It has been done in one day,
while some races have taken as many as four days. Several balloons will
be competing in the cross country race.

It is a race where both the pilot’s and crew’s skills are challenged.
A balloon can only go the same speed and direction as the wind. The
pilot must find the altitude which gives him/her the best speed as well
as direction towards the finish line. The race becomes a crew event as
well, since the balloons are limited to 40 gallons of fuel (propane).
Forty gallons is approximately enough fuel to last 4 hours, so the
balloons have to land for refueling. If the crew is not there
immediately with fresh tanks, valuable time is lost 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, May 30, 2024.

While the competition to the Atlantic continues, other balloonist
compete in local events beginning Thursday evening around 6:00 pm. Local
flying events will take place also on Friday and Saturday. The balloons
will fly around 7:30 am and 6:00 pm each day (weather permitting). The
balloons will only fly for around 1 to 2 hours. There will be many
opportunities available to the public; assisting with the inflations,
being a part of a chase crew or taking a tethered ride in a balloon.
There will be approximately 20 balloons flying locally


May 31
7:00 am - 6:30 pm


1074 Edelweiss Strasse
Helen, Georgia 30545 US
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