« 29. Bavarian Gasballoon Autumn Competition | Main | Return to the past »

03 September 2006

Far ... farther ... the farthest

Gas balloons ... a rare sight in the sky. In fact the entire world only counts several tens of active gas balloons. Once a year a major gas balloon competion, established in 1906, gathers the best gas balloon pilots to race against each other.

We can see hot air balloons all the time. You heat the air in the envelope, and because this warmer air is lighter than the surrounding air the balloons rises. But 220 years ago an alternative way of ballooning was born: the gas balloon. A gas balloon is filled with helium or hydrogen gas and then closed. Very important accessories of a gas balloon are the sand bags dangling beside the basket. By throwing out a bit of sand ballast you will rise, by releasing a bit of gas you will descend.

And you have to be very skilled to do this, because a balloon certainly is not as free as a bird in the sky. You'll have to obey certain rules and to fly at different altitudes to stay away from the other air traffic in the area. Moreover a very economic use of sand and gas may lead to the ability to fly very long distances.

In 1906 James Gordon Bennett decided to organize a major gas balloon competition. The only task: to fly as far as possible (measured in a straight line). If the weather is good 17 balloons from 9 countries will take off on Saturday night, September 9th, for another edition of this magnificent race. In the darkness of the evening every 3 minutes a balloon will be launched from a platform, accompanied by its national hymn. Can you already feel the goose-flesh coming? Each balloon is manned by 2 pilots. Probably they will fly one, two or three days and nights. They try to fly the farthest distance, but within the European borders. Maybe they'll reach the top of Finland? or the Algarve? or Turkey? Anyway, they'll go wherever the wind takes them! Last year Belgians became the winners of the competition in America. They flew 3400 km!

If the weather conditions are not favourable on Saturday the takeoff will be postponed till Sunday or even Monday. If the weather is not good on Monday the competition will be put off till 2007.

On this website you can find all the interesting facts about this prestigious race, flewn by exceptionally competent balloonists with a lot of courage, nerve and knowledge. We will publish 18 hours in advance when the balloons will take off. This because it takes many hours to fill all the balloons. And ... during the whole race week you'll be able to follow on this site the track of the balloons!

The place to be for next weekend: Waasmunster (look at the map for the exact location of the launch field). We bid you a warm welcome at the launch area, where you'll also find food an beverage, permanent exhibitions etc. Entrance free.

Posted by Marianne at 9:33 AM

Email story to a friend

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):


March 2009
January 2009
September 2008
July 2008
March 2008
January 2008
December 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
June 2006
April 2006
March 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003

Last messages

Lighter than air
Gas balloon contest on WAG is cancelled
Men with a mission
Helma Sjuts deceased
Coupe AĆ©ronautique Gordon Bennett 2008 - the teams
GB 2009 in Geneva
World Record Balloon Flight
GB 2008 in Albuquerque
America's Challenge - update #2
America's Challenge - update #1


Gasballoon Map


Official Gordon Bennett Pages


Belgian Balloon Pages