23 Mar 2016

Fribourg ready to welcome the famous Gordon Bennett Cup

61st Aeronautical Cup for Gas Balloons in 2017

The Canton of Fribourg will have the honour of organising the prestigious Aeronautical Cup for Gas Balloons, the ‘Gordon Bennett’ (FAI World Long Distance Gas Balloon Championship) in 2017. In Spain last weekend, the FAI Ballooning Commission (CIA) (which runs the FAI’s ballooning activities) confirmed the choice of Fribourg. It adopted the proposal made by the National Ballooning Commission (FSA) back in November 2015. This international competition, which brings together the world’s best balloonists, will take place near the airstrip in Epagny, just below the Château de Gruyères and amongst the foothills of the Alps. The event will run from 7 to 16 September 2017. For ‘four cornerstones of the Fribourg economy’ a dream will come true.

Fribourg and Switzerland will be the stage for the mythical Gordon Bennett Long Distance Gas Balloon Championship. The 61st event will take place from 7 to 16 September 2017 near the airstrip in Epagny in the Gruyère in the Canton of Fribourg. The principle of the championship is simple: the winning team, made up of two balloonists, is the one which travels the longest distance, measured as the crow flies, in their balloon, without a time limit.

History and organisation of the event

Four cornerstones of the Fribourg economy’ decided to sponsor the Fribourg-Freiburg Challenge balloon in 2014 with the specific objective of being able to bring the World Cup to the Canton of Fribourg. Thanks to the SUI-1 team coming in first and the Fribourg team coming in third, we were able to make a successful bid for the competition. We have set up a separate project organisation to address this challenge:

  • the structure will be headed by the Gordon Bennett Fribourg 2017 Association which will oversee the project;
  • a steering committee will be tasked with strategic aspects and monitoring;
  • a project management group will be responsible for all the operational aspects.

Georges Godel, Member of the Swiss Council of States and Director of Finances, will chair the Gordon Bennett Fribourg 2017 Association. He is convinced that ‘the Gordon Bennett Cup is an ideal vehicle to promote the attractions and flavour of the Canton of Fribourg both nationally and internationally’.
Anne Maillard Magnin, Assistant Director of the Fribourg Cantonal Bank (BCF), will chair the steering committee and Serge Collaud, General Secretary of Transports publics fribourgeois (TPF) will manage the project. The main ambition of this structure is to make the Gordon Bennett Aeronautical Cup better known and to contribute to the international image of the Canton of Fribourg.

Continuing the legend

James Gordon Bennett, the press baron and great adventurer, organised the first of these International championships in Paris in 1906. Ever since, this championship, which represents the ultimate challenge for balloonists, has inspired stories and made new records. They have created the legend. It was because of his passion for sport that Gordon Bennett initiated this competition.

Photo credit: Jean-Pierre Girard