15 Mar 2017

6 months until the 60th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett in Gladbeck, Germany!

180 days to go until the 60th edition of the Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett, the FAI World Long Distance Gas Balloon Championship. This year the individual stories of the pilots full of adventure, skill, courage, survival and luck will continue in Gladbeck (GER) from 15 – 24 September 2016.

The Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett is the oldest and most prestigious event in aviation and the ultimate challenge for the pilots and their equipment. The goal seems simple: to fly the furthest non-stop distance from the launch site, but it is a tough endeavour when pilots navigate through the skies. This means navigating non-stop, days and nights, through cold and warm weather in lower and higher altitudes where also the amount of oxygen in the air will get lower and requires masks, sitting in one basket and fitting all the belongings for the whole duration of the flight in it.

The location of the competition changes with the winners nationalities: In 2014 Wilhelm Eimers and Matthias Zenge from Germany won the 58th edition when it was hosted in Vichy (FRA). This means they brought the competition to Gladbeck, Germany, the epicentre of global gasballooning activities which will therefore provide for sure perfect conditions. The 59th edition of the Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett in 2015 was won by the Swiss pilots Kurt Frieden and Pascal Witprächtiger, which means the 61th edition will be hosted in Switzerland in 2017.  

So far, 26 teams from 13 nations have been nominated by their National Aeroclubs, which is a new record! The deadline will be the 31 March 2016. The website www.gordonbennett.aero will be updated and all the names of the teams will be published. The website will again provide live tracking, which kept a lot of spectators in front of their screens over days and nights!

The international competition has a long tradition and was initiated by adventurer and newspaper tycoon James Gordon Bennett Jr. in 1906, when 16 balloons launched from the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, France. Little did the crowd of 200,000 spectators know that this race was to continue throughout the 20th century.

Photo credit: Jean-Pierre Girard