on Friday evening April 6th, four teams launched for a long distance flight from Marl.
The teams were:
Heinz Kroger & Hansjorg Federl
Dominik Haggeney & Christoph Almodt
Kurt Frieden & Stefan Zeberli
Tomas Hora & Volker Löschhorn
This flight was meant for training for the Gordon Bennett as well as qualification for the Swiss and German Teams.
After launching in Marl all teams took direction Kassel - Erfurt Airport (were no traffic was reported) and continued to the Czech Republic.
With a lot of good will from the Czech air traffic controllers it was possible to cross Praha TMA. Precondition for this was that all teams have a working Transponder Mode C and would keep an altitude of FL90 to 100. At this point Heinz Kroger decided to land, since his transponder didn't work properly. Well done!!!!!
Our clearance we received was also used by the later balloons of the NRW championship. Most of them kpt all the necessary steps Unfortunately the controller were not happy about the behaviour of all the pilots flying in the Czech Republic. This incident is under investigation, now.
After having cleared Praha we continued to Brno, where the controller already started to work on the clearance for Romania. Brno then passed us on to Slovakia, where we then entered the second night all balloons still flying in the vincity of approx 1km or less. After a couple of hours we entered Hungarian Airspace with a very nice female controller, who then also passed us on to Romania, where the clearance was given with the waiver to call the police after landing and to keep the transponder running at all times.
We then approached the Carpat mountains, which was quite spectacular at night with a bright moon. After having crossed the 2300m high mountain range, the sun came up. Due to the ballast situation of Tomas & Volker and no valid clearance for Bulgaria all teams decided to land in the morning.
The hospitality all teams received from the Romanian people was overwhelming. The region we landed is quite poor with no running water in the homes and one heated room (kitchen) in the whole house. Nevertheless they offered us a fabulous meal which could not be topped and provided us any help we didn’t even ask for. Everywhere we came the friendliness was present. The local police even informed border control, so that our way back would be easier.
The crews were at the basket very shortly after landing, which was a big success, since they had car problems on the way and the streets in the East are getting worse with every kilometre. But Iris & Jorg on the Swiss side and Petra, Andreas & Helge on the side of Dominik & Tomas handled all challenges with a smile.
After packing all teams met again and drove the way two days back together. We all had big fun and the "learning factor" was incredible since everybody was sharing information totally openly.
Thank you for the "backstage" team with Sabrina & Stefan Handl and Michael Reichert.