PALM SPRINGS — All six balloons in the Gordon Bennett balloon race landed safely, spread from only 14 miles to 50 miles from their starting point and too close for officials to decide on a winner Monday.
Unofficial results put the two top finishers within two miles of each other after the helium balloons landed safely, race spokeswoman Frances Byrne said.
On Monday, a recorded statement from the Aero Club of Southern California said the race was still too close to call. The results, based on reports from the balloonists, were unofficial and must be confirmed.
"Windsong," piloted by Gordon Boring of Walled Lake, Mich., and Don Davis of Long Beach, landed between 7 and 8 p.m. Sunday near the hamlet of Ocotillo Wells, 52.5 miles southeast of the starting line in Palm Springs.
"Solvay-L.A. Times," piloted by Gerald Singer of Wattwil, Switzerland, and Werner Pfenninger of Rapperswil, Switzerland, landed at 2:17 p.m. near the town of Warner Springs, 50.7 miles south of Palm Springs. The balloon was sponsored by The Times.
The race record is more than 1,300 miles.
The six big helium bags soared aloft for several hours late Saturday night and early Sunday before a crowd of thousands gathered at Ruth Hardy Park in Palm Springs.
The object of the race is to go the farthest from the starting line, regardless of time, before supplies of helium and ballast are exhausted. The pilots in this year's event had to contend with winds of less than 10 m.p.h. at ground level and high temperatures that hastened the seepage of helium from the balloons.
"Windsong" and "Cherokee" made it 100 miles to the Mexican border, only to be blown back 45 miles when the wind shifted.