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6th FAI World Sailplane Grand Prix Championship: Tight Battle to Start on Saturday in Italy

From 5 to 12 September 2015, twenty amongst the best gliding pilots in the world will battle out t...

59th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett: Victory for Swiss Team SUI 01 Frieden and Witprächtiger!

Swiss Team SUI 01 Kurt Frieden and Pascal Witprächtiger (left) won the 59th Coupe Aéronautique Gordo...

France Holds On to its FAI Aerobatic World Championships Titles - Rob Holland Freestyle World Champion for the Third Consecutive Time

France takes home all gold medals at the 28th FAI World Aerobatics Championships: general rankings, ...

59th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett – Preparations in Full Swing !

7 hours to go until the take-off of the FAI World Long Distance Gas Balloon Championship. The launch...

Follow the 59th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett online - Launch of the gas balloons on Friday !

The Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett, the FAI World Long Distance Gas Balloon Championship, is the ...

Event Website for the FAI World Air Games Dubai 2015  Now Up....

Event Website for the FAI World Air Games Dubai 2015 Now Up....

FAI invites you to visit the new event website for the FAI World Air Games Dubai 2015. Managed by the Emirates Aerosports Federation (EAF) as the host of the event, it offers quick and easy access to ....

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FAI World Air Games Dubai 2015 - Bulletins Available for Dow....

FAI World Air Games Dubai 2015 - Bulletins Available for Dow....

The following bulletins for the FAI World Air Games Dubai 2015 are now online:                    ....

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Dream of Seeing Air Sports at Olympic Games Postponed

Dream of Seeing Air Sports at Olympic Games Postponed

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Organising Committee has announced that eight International Federations have been shortlisted for potential inclusion in the programme of the Games and will participate in....

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Paragliding : An Olympic Sport ?

Paragliding : An Olympic Sport ?

Following the invitation from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Organising Committee to 35 International Federations, the FAI has selected Paragliding as a potential additional sport. FAI, the FAI Hang G....

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2015 FAI Active Members’ Presidents Meeting in Alicante

2015 FAI Active Members’ Presidents Meeting in Alicante

The representatives of 18 FAI Members, the Executive Board and Head Office staff members gathered in Alicante, Spain, on Saturday for the 2015 FAI Active Members’ Presidents Meeting.

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4 August 1985: Larry Tudor, the “Part Bird”,  who Flew a Record of....

4 August 1985: Larry Tudor, the “Part Bird”, who Flew a Record of....

Today marks the 30th anniversary of an FAI Word Record made by an American pilot described as both “Part Bird” and “Skygod” and who is perhaps one of the finest Hang Glider pilot for tandem ....

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8 July 2010: Borschberg Breaks  the First Solar-Powered Aeroplane Reco....

8 July 2010: Borschberg Breaks the First Solar-Powered Aeroplane Reco....

Five years ago today, Swiss pilot André Borschberg landed the zero-fuel aircraft Solar Impulse HB-SIA after a 26h 10m 19s flight from and to Payerne, Switzerland. A normal duration for a jet, but an ....

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23 June 2005: The Paramotoring Journey  of Alexander Bogdanov through ....

23 June 2005: The Paramotoring Journey of Alexander Bogdanov through ....

With an outstanding pilot in paramotoring, we would like to carry on with the series of FAI World Record anniversaries: Ten years ago on 23 June 2005, the three Russian pilots Vladimir Makurin, Nikola....

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21 May 2000: The Story of Lindsay Muir's Hot Air Balloon World Record

21 May 2000: The Story of Lindsay Muir's Hot Air Balloon World Record

Balloon World Record not broken since We are pleased to continue our series of world record celebrations with an exceptional woman in ballooning sports: British Lindsay Muir. She established a fema....

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Interview with Alexey Leonov, the First Man to Walk in Outer Space

Interview with Alexey Leonov, the First Man to Walk in Outer Space

On 18 March 1965, FAI celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first space-walk. Russian cosmonaut Alexey Leonov achieved this feat during the Voshkod 2 mission. He stayed out in space for 12 min 9 sec,....

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until 06 September 2015 2015 Paragliding World Cup Ager (Spain)
until 07 September 2015 2015 ASIANIA "EMAX" video competition Location to be advised (To be advised)
until 06 September 2015 2015 Korea Open HG Championship Hadong (Korea)
until 05 September 2015 2015 Russia Cup (final) Pyatigorsk (Russia)
until 05 September 2015 2015 Russia HG Open Cup Pyatigorsk (Russia)
until 07 September 2015 2015 MAI Cup Memory P.Grushin - Category F2 - Control Line Circular Flight Khimki (Russia)
until 05 September 2015 2015 Pico do Gavião International HG Open Andradas (Brazil)
until 06 September 2015 2015 Serial Cup Nova Gorica (Slovenia)
until 06 September 2015 2015 Kopaonik Raska Open, 6.round Serbian league Kopaonik (Serbia)
until 05 September 2015 2015 Dinosaur Cliff Ridge (USA)
until 06 September 2015 2015 Greek League (PG) Agrinio (Greece)

Upcoming Events

05 September 2015 6th FAI World Sailplane Grand Prix Championship Calcinate Del Pesce (Italy)
05 September 2015 2nd International Pannonia Cup - Category F5 - Radio Controlled Electric Powered Flight Oberpullendorf (Austria)
05 September 2015 3rd MB Cup F3B - Category F3 - Radio Controlled Flight Mlada Boleslav (Czech Rep.)
05 September 2015 2015 Cro Cup Zapresic - Category F1 - Free Flight Krbava (Croatia)
05 September 2015 2015 Cup of Mongolia - Category F1 - Free Flight Susdal (Russia)
05 September 2015 2015 Spielberg - Red Bull Air Race World Championship Spielberg (Austria)
05 September 2015 2015 Vrsac Open, 4.round Serbian ACC league Vrsac (Serbia)
06 September 2015 2015 Mura Cup of Slovenia - Category F1 - Free Flight Krbava (Croatia)
06 September 2015 2015 Copa Brasil de Parapente Andradas (Brazil)
06 September 2015 17th ASIANIA Parachuting Championships and China International Open 2015 Taiyuan (China (People's Republic of))
06 September 2015 2015 Hasan Dagi XC open - Paragliding Cross Country Competition Aksaray (Turkey)
07 September 2015 10th FAI European Artistic Events Championships Teuge (Netherlands)
07 September 2015 13th FAI European Formation Skydiving Championships Teuge (Netherlands)
07 September 2015 11th FAI World Cup of Artistic Events Teuge (Netherlands)
07 September 2015 20th FAI World Cup of Formation Skydiving Teuge (Netherlands)
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Latest FAI World Record Claims

29 August 2015 Aeromodelling and Spacemodelling : Race Time in Competition (100 laps): 136 : 3 min 11,3 sec
24 August 2015 Powered Aeroplanes : Speed over a closed circuit of 5 000 km without payload : 293,77 km/h Raymond Pearson (AUS)
24 August 2015 Rotorcraft : Speed over a recognised course : 110,00 km/h Paul Salmon (USA)
23 August 2015 Powered Aeroplanes : Speed over a closed circuit of 500 km without payload : 493,74 km/h Gunar Armin Holboth (BRA)
22 August 2015 Powered Aeroplanes : Speed over a 3 km course : 521,08 km Gunar Armin Holboth (BRA)
22 August 2015 Powered Aeroplanes : Time to climb to a height of 3 000 m : 2 min 26 sec Gúnar Armin Halboth (BRA)
22 August 2015 Powered Aeroplanes : Speed over a closed circuit of 100 km without payload : 490,14 km/h Gunar Armin Holboth (BRA)
21 August 2015 Powered Aeroplanes : Speed over a 15 km course : 511,19 km/h Gunar Armin Holboth (BRA)
18 August 2015 Hang Gliding and Paragliding : Distance over a triangular course : 208.00 km Konrad Albert Lapierre Heilmann (BRA)
18 August 2015 Hang Gliding and Paragliding : Speed over a triangular course of 200 km : 36,00 km/h Konrad Albert Lapierre Heilmann (BRA)
15 August 2015 Aeromodelling and Spacemodelling : Duration (ceiling less than 8 m): 125-a : 22 min 50 sec Yuan Kang Lee (USA)
14 August 2015 Aeromodelling and Spacemodelling : Distance in a closed circuit: 153 : 76,5 km Vladimir Kiselev (RUS)
12 August 2015 Hang Gliding and Paragliding : Distance over a triangular course : 257,2 km Alexander Robé (AUT)
12 August 2015 Hang Gliding and Paragliding : Distance over a triangular course : 257,2 km Alexander Robé (AUT)
11 August 2015 Rotorcraft : Speed over a recognised course : 5,3 km/h Norman Frank Surplus (GBR)
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8th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett - Paris (FRA) 1913

Start: Paris, Jardin des Tuileries, October 12th, afternoon         

From the Book: Die Gordon Bennett Ballon Rennen
(The Gordon Bennett Races) by Ulrich Hohmann Sr

The circle closes, the launch of the Gordon Bennett Race returns to its birthplace from 1906. This had been achieved by Maurice Bienaime and Rene Rumpelmeyer with a flight from Stuttgart to the area of Moscow the year before. It was directed by fate, that this return happened exactly in the moment, when an interruption for a longer period stood at the front door. Nobody knew this of course, for times had become calmer. It still rumbled in the Balkans, even if the Osman empire had mostly renounced . their European possessions. But the Balkans were far away, seen from Paris much farther than from Stuttgart. Probably one can see in the fixing of the union of three (Germany, Austria and Italy) during the emperors exercises in Silesia a month ago, the beginning of a confrontation against France, England and Russia, which forced France to introduce the three years duty in military service.

High diplomacy, who did care about it in those days? It was much more than today the case of the leading heads, either monarchs or civil presidents of a republic. Much more a topic for discussion, at least for balloon pilots, was the explosion of the German navy airship L2 over Johannistal near Berlin, killing 24 people. Also new ways to travel in the air came up, and nobody really knew, how they would perform. But everything else, besides the normal catastrophes of nature, mine explosions, train accidents and ships sinking is quite normal.

The people among themselves understood each other, the sportsmen were friends. Of course, they fought for victory in a race, but before and after they shared experiences, discussed and helped each other. If someone would have told to a Bienaime or a Leblanc, that they have to hate an Eimermacher, Kaulen or Berliner or the other way round, because they were "iron foes", they would have refused without understanding.

Flying balloons was very attractive to the French people, more than half a million spectators were counted at the launch. They hoped for another French victory, but in vain. 18 pilots had come to Paris and everybody knew that they were "the best of the world". Honeywell, third the year before, was there, and also Bienaime and Rumpelmeyer, last years winners, flew separate this time. As "2nd man in the basket" a woman flew for the first time in a Gordon Bennett Race, Madame Gustave Goldschmidt. Emancipation was always a matter of course in ballooning. With Rene Rumpelmayer as pilot she had flown from Paris to the area of Charkov (Ukraine) on March 19th to 21st this year, putting the world distance record up to 2420 km. One had heard from Hugo Kaulen and Hans Berliner from Germany (and should soon hear much more), Armbruster, de Beauclair from Switzerland and young Belgian Demuyter were hot favourites for the victory. Only one would not be considered to be on one of the higher rankings: 25 year old Ralph H. Upson from the USA. Reason for this was among others, that he had become a pilot just one year before and, at least in the opinion of the other competitors and the journalists, could not have gathered enough experience and technical knowledge. Of course, he was a student of meteorology, or, as it was called in these days "the streaming of the air", but one still did not think very well about this science. Also his balloon was not in the best condition. A well know balloon manufacturer pointed some broken meshed in his net to him, Upson asked back: "Do you think, that the hole is big enough that the envelope could escape through it?"

There had also been a change in the selection of the pilots. Looking at the competitors lists of the first races shows, that a lot of officers, noblemen and industrialists took part in these flights. Ballooning was reserved to these circles of society in many countries. But now, thanks to Gordon Bennett, one could not only face adventures on these flights, but also gather fame for oneself and his home country. So it is quite understandable, that the national aero clubs took more influence in the selection of the competitors. They had to prove the adequate staying power and enough experience, the rest then came on its own.

Experience was quite different. Frank Lahm (1906) won in his 15th flight in a balloon, Edgar W. Mix (1909) had finished his instructions to become a balloon pilot just two years ago, so there was not too much experience. It looked quite better with Erbslöh, Theodor Schaeck, Alan R. Hawley and Hans Gericke. But all of them may not have cared much about tactical conditions and long preparations.

The more these races became known, the more fame came to the competitors and their countries and the more importance was put on selection of the balloon and the persons. One of the first, who added considering the influence of meteorological conditions to his planning, was Ernest Demuyter. The race in 1913 had contributed a lot to this, as he explains in his report:

Translation from Demuyter here

Meteorology in those days was in its childhood. Of course, the pilots got handed out the information from all meteorological stations round the world, and often the forecast for beginning rain, snowfall or storm was true. But there were no weather maps as we know today from the television every evening. There was also no weather briefing before launch. Everybody got his own information. What he then concluded and how he put it to practice was his own affair.

So they tried to save ballast, looked for a fast and adequate layer, put the track to a map and prolonged it, concluded then to fly a little higher or lower to catch some more kilometres over land before the sea put and end to the flight. One only risked to fly out to the sea, when the direction and power of the wind, seen by the heading till then, could guarantee a relatively safe arrival at the opposite coast. It was still well remembered what happened in 1908.

The morning after launch found the field close together about 200 kilometres south of Paris. Then the wind turned to the northwest, towards the Atlantic ocean. Now, according to the old way, one had to try to fly to the longest bulge of the land. That means, flying low, to the left, this was the direction for the Bretagne. Catching this peninsula of France allows to fly up to the town of Brest. American Honeywell managed this best, his most southerly heading brought him almost 500 km as the crow flys.

Italian Pastine tried it just the other way round and was also not without success. His most northerly heading brought him to Normandy almost up to the town of Cherbourg, at least also 450 kilometres far. All the others flew in between and therefore had to come back to earth at the bay of St. Malo. That would have been it, if not Mister Upson was absolutely confident in his science.

Today every balloon pilot knows (or should know it), that the wind turns right in a high pressure area and counter clockwise in a low. Today we know the gradient winds, floating almost parallel to the isobars. Mister Upson also knew this in his days. In the beginning, he did not care at all, flying more north or south, then, to the horror of the others, he crossed the coast, heading for his sure death, if he would not find a ship, fishing him out of the waves of the ocean.

He did not need the ship. He fell, caused by the cooling air above the water (and its influence on the temperature of the gas) from his former altitude, but got the balloon under control, overthrew, climbed much higher than before and headed now exactly north, towards the English coast between Exeter and Portsmouth. From there it went on in a wide bend, crossing the Bristol Channel, passing north of Birmingham, until the North Sea north of the little town Bampton, Devon, forced him to land after 43 1/2 hours of flight.

We had seen this before! 1906 American Frank P. Lahm made his victory not far from this place, but much more directly, not with this long detour over Southwest England. Upson told after his victory, that he had made a mistake in his calculations: He had not calculated the cooling above the water, without the fall he would have flown in a bend much more narrow above the Netherlands to Northwest Germany. But nobody believes this, especially with today's knowledge of his science. Such small circles are rarely permitted by a high over Scandinavia and a low west of England. And would this have been farther? – He got his victory with 618 kilometres, a victory of science over technical skill in a balloon, a victory of sober calculations over experience.

The end of the race caused another effect. Both Germans Hugo Kaulen and Hans Berliner had hoped for more success. They ended in the disappointing ranks 16 and 18. But hey did not rest, they knew about their skill and wanted to prove it to the world. Little later, they had the opportunity for it. On December 13th Hugo Kaulen went on a flight, bringing him the world record for duration with 87 hours. Hans Berliner waited another 2 month longer. On February 8th 1914 he flew east from Bitterfeld for 47 hours covering 3053 kilometres and landing at Perm in the Ural. That was the new world record in distance, first beaten on August 17th, 1978 with the first crossing of the Atlantic ocean. The history of this two flights is worth an extra book.

Later, after the war, Upson flew in two more Races, but could not repeat his success. The break of six years, following the 1913 race, also forced progress in meteorology for all, otherwise a war with poison gas would not have been possible. A lot of people would have loved to wait longer for these quick results.

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2015 FAI Young Artists Contest

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This year's theme is "Create a poster for the FAI World Air Games Dubai 2015". Give free rein to your imagination – you might earn one of the Gold, Silver or Bronze Medals!

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Find out more about the FAI Anti-Doping Programme.

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