The 61st Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett Gas Ballon Race launched tonight

FRAThis evening 21 gas balloons from 13 countries launched from Gruyères airfield (Switzerland) that sits below the famous chateau for the 61st Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett Race. Over the next few days the teams will aim to fly as far as possible, measured in a straight line from the launch field to the landing site. Meteorological experts are forecasting that the balloons will follow a north-eastern route.

Follow the race live at: gordonbennett.aero/livetracking

The balloons took off one after each other with their national anthems being played. For the first time in many years the launch took place in daylight so that 15’000 spectators and balloonists alike were able to enjoy the beautiful Swiss backdrop to the launch.

According to the weather forecast the winds at altitude are towards the northeast, taking the balloons over Germany and then Poland. The competition will involve many difficulties with air traffic control. Especially for those teams who will try to fly through the narrow corridor between Belarus and Kaliningrad towards Lithuania.

A very tight competition – it will be neck and neck

It is going to be very difficult to predict the winner. There are some very experienced pilots participating like the twice world champions team SUI-1 Kurt Frieden and Pascal Witprächtiger who are sure to be challenged by the local team SUI-2 of Nicolas Tièche and Laurent Sciboz vice world champions in 2016.

Other equally experienced teams will compete, the German team of Matthias Zenge and Benni Eimers. For the first time Benni will replace his father Willy who is nicknamed the “recordman” after competing in the race 26 times with four victories to his name.

The French teams with also likely to be serious contenders with FRA-1 Vincent Leys, already an eight-times winner.

We can’t forget the Spanish team who finished third in 2016 one place ahead of team USA-1, who will be looking to improve this year.

21 balloons from 13 nations

Czech Republic
France (three teams)
Great Britain
Germany (three teams)
Poland (two teams)
Switzerland (three teams)
USA (two teams)

More about the race

Official website
Facebook page
FAI Facebook page