Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett at start – first update

UPDATE 27th Sept 2010

20 Gas Balloons launched from Bristol for the Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race on Saturday 25th September, 12 balloons are still flying after 32 hours of flight.

The balloons launched from Bristol at midnight on Saturday 25th with a wind direction that took them south and over the channel at Lyme Regis at around 4am.


32 hours later 12 balloons still flying, including two balloons flying over the Mediterranean Sea, heading for Italy.

Balloons have been flying for 32 hours, with two pilots in each 1.2 metre squared basket.  20 teams have travelled from 11 countries to compete in this historic and unique aviation event which first launched in Paris in 1906 thanks to the organisation of James Gordon Bennett Jnr.

All teams pilots who have landed are safe and well, and beginning the journey back to Bristol for dinner with event Patron HRH Duke of Edinburgh on Saturday 2nd October.  The retrieve crews set out from Bristol after the midnight launch on Saturday and most are within an hour of the pilots who have landed.

For the first time since James Gordon Bennett Junior held his infamous gas balloon race in 1906 it launches from Great Britain, thanks to the winning race flight of intrepid explorer David Hempleman-Adams and co-pilot Jonathan Mason who flew 1767 kms from Albuquerque to the shores of Lake Michigan North of Chicago, winning the 2008 race.

Event President Anthony Smith said “The British Balloon and Airship Club are delighted to host this magnificent and historical lighter-than-air race in Great Britain for the first time.”

ORIGINAL TEXT

The 54th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett had a great start this weekend on 25th of Sept in Bristol. The breeze delayed the inflation of the balloons by a couple of hours but the audience was patient and relaxed waiting for the big moment to come up.

The public watched the inflation of the balloons and just before midnight all 20 launched into the night.

Check out the status of the flights and the official reports on the Gordon Bennett website.

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A bit of history – part 1

Air Sports have different biginnings. In the following set of articles we’ll try to cover all great over time aspects of air sports. The first one is about hot air balloons.

Hot air balloons

Jacques_Charles_Luftschiff

Early_flight The first clearly recorded instance of a balloon carrying (human) passengers used hot air to generate buoyancy and was built by the brothers   Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier in Annonay, France. After experimenting with unmanned balloons and flights with animals, the first tethered balloon flight with humans on board took place on October 19, 1783 with the scientist Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, the manufacture manager, Jean-Baptiste Réveillon and Giroud de Villette, at the Folie Titon in Paris.

Modern hot air balloons, with an onboard heat source, were pioneered by Ed Yost beginning in the 1950s which resulted in his first successful flight on October 22, 1960. The first modern day hot air balloon to be built in the United Kingdom (UK) was the Bristol Belle in 1967. Today, hot air balloons are used primarily for recreation. Today balloon festivals are a great way to see hot air balloons close up, and are an enjoyable family outing.

 

WOW:  Hot air balloons are able to fly to extremely high altitudes. On November 26 2005, Vijaypat Singhania set the world altitude record for highest hot air balloon flight, reaching 21,290 meters (69,852 feet, almost two times more than a passanger plane normal altitude).

COMPETITIONS: Balloon competitions are often called “races” but they’re most often a test of accuracy, not speed. For most competitive balloon flights, the goal is to fly as close as possible to one or more exact points called “targets”. Once a pilot has directed the balloon as close as possible to a target, a weighted marker with an identifying number written on it is dropped. The distance between a pilot’s marker and that target determines his or her score.

Exemple of competitions that include hot air balloons: Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett, Tochigi Hot Air Balloon International Championship & Hot Air Balloon Honda Grand Prix Final Round, World air Games 2009.