Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett

28 Sep 2018

Follow the progress of the 20 gas balloons in the 62nd Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett

The twenty gas balloons competing in the 62nd Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett rose into the skies above Bern, Switzerland this evening. The pilots’ aim is simple: to travel as far as possible without touching down.

The aim of the race is to fly as far as possible with a set amount of gas. Each team has a different strategy to use the weather systems and available airspace to their advantage and gain the furthest distance.

Live tracking is allowing a huge worldwide audience to track the progress of the balloons as they sail gracefully across Europe for up to 3-4 days without touching down.

The race meteorologist Peter Pöschl report for today’s launch gave two likely options for pilots:

“Low and slow to the South West, using the Mistral wind to take balloons to the Mediterranean or over Perpignan, or high and fast to the South East, crossing the Alps at night to head into Italy and perhaps towards the Balkans.”

Markus Haggeney, Event Director, commented:

“The highly trained balloonists will read and use the weather information to their advantage to fly as far as possible from the launch site in Bern, embracing the spirit of adventure that makes this race so exciting.”

This is the 10th time that Switzerland has hosted the Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett, the legendary balloon race which dates back to 1906.

The 20 teams represent 11 nations, with the hot favourites coming from Germany, Switzerland and France, whose two-person crew Vincent Leÿs and Christophe Houver won in 2017 and will be competing again this year.

The launch will take place as part of a free air sports event weekend in Bern at which the audience will enjoy helicopters, parachute displays, music and entertainment, and a night glow. The prize-giving ceremony will take place on Saturday 6 October in Bern.

Photo credit: FAI/Marcus King