Helen to the Atlantic
                      Balloon Race & Festival 
"From the Center of the world to the edge of the Earth"            Pete Hodkinson, 1974 
**2002 Race Results and Photos - click here**

31st Annual  Helen to the Atlantic
Balloon Race & Festival
 June 3,4 & 5   2004

The South's oldest balloon event and the United States' only long distance hot air balloon race began at 7:00 am, Thursday, June 3rd, 2004.  It was a beautiful morning.  Several competitors took off for the coast.  The race was won by Dan Stukas, flying the Anderson County, SC balloon.  Last year's race winner, Steve Stokoe (Tampa, FL) came in second.  Dr Kit Weathers (Griffin, GA), several time past winner, came in third.

It was a long grueling flight this year, as the winds were very slow.  The winds aloft only carried the balloons along at 10 to 12 mph.  Like last year, the air was very stable and allowed the balloonist to fly all day.  There were some eventful land sites.  Dan not only won the balloon race, but won the prize for the most difficult chase.  He and his crew had to pack out the balloon from an inaccessable field by hand.  It took them almost two hours to transport the balloon and all equipment the 1 mile out of the woods.  At his next landing, he got his motorhome chase vehicle stuck crossing a road and spent 1 1/2 hours jacking it up to get it off of the pavement.  At the end of the first day, as a result of the problems with the chase Dan was 20 miles behind, Steve Stokoe.  The following day Dan made up the distance, as he was able to get off the ground in an area clear of the rain that kept Steve on the ground.   Knowing that Steve was not flying, Dan watched his GPS and when he was comfortably ahead, he landed.  His margin of victory was only 2.9 miles.  The light winds kept the racers from making it all the way to the finish line this year, however they still covered some 125 miles.  This victory give Dan Stukas 4 outright wins and one tie for 1st.

Check back for more photos of the 2004 event.

Here is a story on this year's race:  http://www.accessnorthga.com/news/hall/newfullstory.asp?ID=81677

The Helendorf River Inn (706-878-2271) is the host and headquarters as it has been since 1974, as well as a major sponsor and organizer of the balloon race.  Dick and Barbara Gay have been organizing and sponsoring the race, as well as graciously hosting the pilots for many years.  Nowdays, Cathrine Clineman, the Gay's daughter, is the event organizer.  Cathrine, along with Dick, Barbara and the staff of the Helendorf, bring a great balloon event together for the city of Helen.   In 2003, they were all recognized by the Ballooning Federation of America for their contribution to the sport of ballooning in the United States.

While staying at the Helendorf the pilots, their families and crews stay busy with hot dog roasts on the patio by the river, tubing down the river, hikes to waterfalls, picnics, buggy rides, an afternoon at the amusement park, a round of golf, gold panning, visits to museums or shopping.  Alpine Helen offers much for guests to enjoy.

Another major sponser of the event is Common Sense Conservation.  It was founded by race winner and annual participant Earl Miller.  Earl achieved his goal of winning in 1995, after many years of placing 2nd and 3rd in the Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race.  Common Sense Conservation has sponsored Earl flying his balloon all around the world from the North Pole to the Great Wall of China.  He also flys gas balloons.  Earl represented the United States in the 2001 Gordon Bennett Race.

Our Balloonmeister is Tarp Head.  He participated in the event the since the first year in 1974.  He won the race to the Atlantic in 1979.   His interest in the balloon race led to his vocation.  He started  HEAD Balloons, Inc., one of six FAA approved balloon manufactures in the United States.

For more information on the event contact Barbara Gay, Catherine Cleinman or Sharon Walden at the Helendorf Inn at 706-878-2271 or Tarp Head at Head Balloons at 706-865-3874.  For information during the race, call the Race Headquarters (Helendorf Inn) at 706-878-2271.

Click here to see photos of some of current year's participants. 
** 2003 Race Results and Photos - click here**
**2002 Race Results and Photos - click here**
Race Headquarters, sponsor and organizer of the Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race and Festival  706-878-2271
Local Manufacturer of FAA Approved Hot Air Balloons
Co-Sponsor of the Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race.  For more information send email to:  wldbnchint@aol.com  
Official homepage of Alpine Helen, Georgia
Official tubing company of the Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race & Festival
Official beer of the Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race & Festival.   
Northeast Sales Distributing - Athens, Georgia 
 The Helen Story  the history of Helen's transformation - The Helen Story  
and images of the past
 Click here to see Helen's 1st balloon ascension
VISIT NORTHEAST GEORGIA . com www.visitnortheastgeorgia.com  has a lot of information about the Northeast Georgia Mountains
www.n-georgia.com www.n-georgia.com is another great resourse for information on Northeast Georgia

Hot air balloons inflated ready for lift off.




copyright 2004 - HABR


Click here to see Désirée and Tarp's webpage