At 16:00hr Luc Van Geyte and his companion Ronny Van Havere were the first ones to take off aboard the D-OEIM ‘Columbus IV‘, followed by Xavier Waymel in the F-GEAC ‘Banque Populaire du Nord’... Some tense moments followed when Xavier had to throw away a whole bag of sand to prevent a collision with the brand new balloon of Bob Berben. After the baptism, earlier in the afternoon, Bob and Benoît Siméons ascended in D-OBYN ‘Miche’. With these take-offs 3 Belgian pilots of the new generation all left from Belgian soil for the very first time. No wonder that the pilots as well as their wives were rather nervous.
One of the happiest people present was without any doubt Albert Vanden Bemden... Until a couple of years ago he could never have dreamt that, after the glorious gasballooning past of Belgium, not less than 6 pilots would be ‘in the air’ again in Belgium.
Afterwards we learned that the French balloon landed in Putte-Kapellen, the D-OEIM in Baarle-Nassau and the D-OBYN west of Tilburg... They got rather wet, but that isn’t much of a problem for a gasballoon, is it? Anyway, to the full satisfaction of Bob and Benoît the rain washed off the remainders of the champagne baptism. Now the other competitors at the Gordon Bennett certainly can’t think they had already toasted to a potential victory.
Benoît has already told us several times that we don’t have to expect too much from their first participation ... but we can tell you that this certainly isn’t the mood in which our 2 pilots are leaving to France!