Login

Red Bull Air Race Returns to the Record-Setting Crowds of Chiba, Japan

Motorsport fans who couldn’t get enough of the Red Bull Air Race when it made its debut in Chiba, Ja...

Female pilot to make history as she joins the Challenger Cup for the 2016 Red Bull Air Race season

The 2016 Challenger Cup promises plenty of surprises for 2016, with three new contenders in the eigh...

CIAM Flyer (6-2015) - Night of Design

Anyone building a model aeroplane usually does this in isolation, i.e. alone and in their own worksh...

Gliding pilot Sebastian Kawa named Athlete of the Month by IWGA

The International World Games Association (IWGA) announced the nomination of Polish pilot Sebastian ...

First sailplane flight over Dubai

  On 7 December 2015 an historic first flight of a sailplane over the skyline of Dubai was p...

FAI World Air Games Dubai Organisers Visit the FAI Head Offi....

FAI World Air Games Dubai Organisers Visit the FAI Head Offi....

The FAI Executive Board and the organisers of the FAI World Air Games Dubai 2015, including Event Director H.E. Youssif Al Hammadi, held a joint meeting on Saturday at the FAI Head Quarters in Lausann....

Read more...
Gliding pilot Sebastian Kawa named Athlete of the Month by I....

Gliding pilot Sebastian Kawa named Athlete of the Month by I....

The International World Games Association (IWGA) announced the nomination of Polish pilot Sebastian Kawa as the Athlete of the Month for December 2015.  Kawa has just won the Gliding event of th....

Read more...
FAI World Air Games Dubai 2015

FAI World Air Games Dubai 2015

From 1 to 12 December, the FAI World Air Games Dubai 2015 celebrated air sports from around the world. 875 athletes from 55 countries competed in the biggest air sport event ever organised ! Pictu....

Read more...
FAI Meets with Olympic Channel Team

FAI Meets with Olympic Channel Team

The FAI today welcomed the Olympic Channel Team in its office in Lausanne to see how both organisations can collaborate for a better visibility of air sports within the future Olympic Channel. FAI is....

Read more...
Results of the 109th FAI General Conference

Results of the 109th FAI General Conference

The Delegates to the FAI Members gathered in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to attend the 109th FAI General Conference organised on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 September 2015 by the Royal Netherlands Aeron....

Read more...
More news
Olympic ski jumper swaps skis for helicopter skids

Olympic ski jumper swaps skis for helicopter skids

Helicopter pilot Thomas Morgenstern has finished in bronze medal position in the FAI World Air Games Parallel Slalom and Fender competition here in Dubai. The final to decide the gold and silver medal....

Read more...
Seven steps to success: an acrobatic paragliding masterclass with FAI ....

Seven steps to success: an acrobatic paragliding masterclass with FAI ....

French paraglider Tim Alongi, 24, is the new FAI World Air Games Paragliding Aerobatics Champion. Alongi also won the silver medal in the Sychronised Paragliding Aerobatics competition, along with hi....

Read more...
British air sports legend helicopters in

British air sports legend helicopters in

Even among the large crowds at the FAI World Air Games, it's hard to miss Quentin Smith. The flamboyant British helicopter pilot wears a Union Jack jacket, and has been flying, he says, since the age ....

Read more...
Gege is here to win

Gege is here to win

You'd be forgiven for thinking 15-year-old Janejira Chuynoey is here to support a family member in the paramotoring competition. At just 53kg, the petite Thai girl looks like she can barely lift the ....

Read more...
Nicole Schmidt sorts the men from the boys

Nicole Schmidt sorts the men from the boys

Nicole Schmidt from Germany, has been flying paragliders for 11 years. For the last six she's been performing aerobatic tricks, or "acro". It's a discipline very few women attempt, and this year Schmi....

Read more...
More Personality

Current Events

until 08 February 2016 2016 Kiwi Cup of New Zealand - Category F1 - Free Flight Lost Hills, California (USA)

Upcoming Events

07 February 2016 2016 Nepal National League, Leg 1 Pokhara (Nepal)
08 February 2016 2016 New Zealand PG Open Round 1 - Manilla "The Kiwi Open" Manilla, NSW (Australia)
10 February 2016 2016 North American Cup - Category F1 - Free Flight Lost Hills, California (USA)
11 February 2016 2016 Bob White Max Men International - Category F1 - Free Flight Lost Hills, California (USA)
12 February 2016 2016 Guatemala/Mexico El Peñon Classic Race El Peñon, Valle de Bravo (Mexico)
13 February 2016 2016 Lithuanian Open Paragliding Accuracy Championship Trakai (Lithuania)
15 February 2016 2016 Open Trujillo Torococco (Venezuela)
17 February 2016 2016 Copa Vientos Open - Valida Circuito Colombiano de Parapente Apia Risaralda (Colombia)
19 February 2016 2016 Cup of Belarus - Category F2 - Control Line Circular Flight Minsk (Belarus)
20 February 2016 2016 NSW State Titles Mt Borah (Australia)
20 February 2016 2016 Bright Open Bright (Australia)
20 February 2016 2016 Concours FAI F3P - Category F3 - Radio Controlled Flight Strasbourg (France)
21 February 2016 7th Koplas Pro Kup - Category F1 - Free Flight Nova Pazova (Serbia)
24 February 2016 3rd FAI European Hot Air Airship Championship Rottach-Egern (Germany)
26 February 2016 2016 Open Germany Championship F3P - Category F3 - Radio Controlled Flight Coburg (Germany)
More events

 

12th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett - Brussels (BEL) 1923

Start: Brussels, September 23rd, 4 p.m.        

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

This will be the race, in which the attendant circumstances were to be more reported than about the flight itself. If this would have been the third victory in a series for Belgium (without the interruption by Switzerland in 1921), the 1923 Gordon Bennett Race could have been the last one. Who would have tried to set it up again, if five competitors had met death in the previous race?

Until 1998 no Gordon-Bennett-Race was cancelled or even postponed because of weather conditions. Snowstorms and rain often have struck the pilots with a lot of stress. It also often took days, until the first signs of life reached the championship organisation after landing and, let's remember 1908, sometimes it was believed, that some competitors had not survived the flight. But it had always ended well. 1923 became the most tragic of all competitions.

21 balloons were inflated in bright sunshine on the already known Solbosch plain near Bruxelles. The stands and places for spectators were well crowded, it is told, more than 100.000 people had been there. The wind wasn't very strong in the beginning, but quite gusty. Launch preparations were on the run, when the sky darkened and a heavy thunderstorm came up. Lightening flashed through the clouds, soon rain clattered down in heavy drops, followed by hail. Three teams from Italy and one from Poland (entered for the first time) declared, not to launch under these circumstances. Looking back, they made the right decision.

At about 4 p.m. PICARDIE launched first, flown by the Belgium Veenstra, who had been the second man in the basket of Demuyter the year before. It was the same balloon that had won the race for France with Bienaime in 1912. The Spanish balloon DURO followed with Guillen/Sierra. At the take-off of the third balloon, the first misfortune happened. U.S. ARMY S.6 was not exactly balanced, did not get enough altitude at the right time and hit VILLE DE BRUXELLES with its basket. The basket got caught in the net and tore it from the equator up to the vent. So the Belgium Labrousse also stayed on the ground, the year before he had been fourth. But that was not all of the mishaps at the launch. The balloon of the "eternal second" Honeywell, US ARMY was obviously filled too full. At about 5 p.m., a gust of wind shook the balloon so strongly, that it burst still on the ground. Honeywell, already in the basket, said afterwards: "This should have been my sixth Gordon Bennett Race, but fate said no".

With this wind it might have been very difficult for the launch crews to level out the balloons. Overall, all lifted only slowly and then had to dump a lot of ballast immediately to prevent them from crashing against the nearby houses. In the rush, whole sandbags flew overboard. It is a miracle, that no spectator, who stayed there in spite of the thunderstorm, got hurt. They did not see anything from the disasters that followed now for the balloons had already gone out of sight. First it met the Spanish balloon POLAR. After half an hour of flight he was above Heist op den Berg, when a flash of lightening struck its envelope, set the gas on fire and sent him burning back to earth. Co-pilot Penaranda did not survive the fall, Gomez was lucky, he survived, both legs broken. 40 minutes later a flash of lightening struck the Swiss balloon GENF with the pilots von Grüningen and Wehren. Both met death when the burning balloon sank to earth at Moll. The same happened to the Americans Olmstead and Choptaw, killed by lightening near Moerdyck.

There was no radio on board in those days. The other competitors got no news of the tragic occurrences if they had not seen them by themselves. They had to deal with the awful weather alone and landed very soon after short flights between 50 and 300 kilometres, mostly in the Netherlands, where the Spanish Magdalena/Baselga destroyed a high tension power line, but stood unhurt. Only four balloons reached longer distances. The Englishmen Spencer and Berry with their balloon MARGARET were pulled out of the sea 20 miles north of Skagen/Denmark. Swiss Armbruster with Dr.Bachmann in the basket of HELVETIA landed at Flensburg, close to the Baltic Sea. The Belgian balloons PICARDIE and BELGICA crossed the Sund flew deep into Sweden. Demuyter and his co-pilot Coeckelbergh still 150 kilometres more than Veenstra and Quersin. Demuyter had gained his third victory! Let us read his report:

report Demuyter

Articles In This Category
Category Articles

2016 FAI Young Artists Contest

Y-TOROPOVA-2011art1-1big
This year's theme is "Air Sports in Harmony with Nature". Give free rein to your imagination – you might earn one of the Gold, Silver or Bronze Medals!

Read more...

Clean sport

843566_85292309-microscope
Find out more about the FAI Anti-Doping Programme.

Read more...

FAI Awards

awards
Browse the list of the FAI Awards recipients.

Read more...

events calendar

Gallery

Interesting Record

world air_games

frontpage_logos

IOC Recognised

Did you know...?

3h 54m 59s = World Record manpowered aircraft

Did you know...?

Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth

Did you know...?

There are 150 pilots in Paragliding Worlds

Red Bull Air Race
The Game