If you happened to look up yesterday and see a large white balloon flying over Paris, your eyes weren’t deceiving you.
It was was the gas balloon of Team France FRA-1 who is currently racing in the 66th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett 2023.
In fact, the team are currently leading the race at an altitude of 4048m with a distance scored of 2144.79KM.
The Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett, the FAI World Long Distance Gas Balloon Championship, is the oldest and most prestigious event in aviation and the ultimate challenge for the pilots.
The Gordon Bennett has been held in the United States only 13 times before, and this will be the fifth time the Balloon Fiesta has hosted the race (the others were in 1993, 1999, 2005, and 2008).
The goal is simple: to fly the furthest non-stop distance from the launch site. The two-person crews, steered by some of the most talented pilots in the world, monitor the balloons in six-hour shifts from launch until they touch down. The team that manages to make it the farthest distance wins the race.
Last year’s champions, Wilhelm Eimers and Benjamin Eimers (father and son) from Germany, are racing to defend their title. Willi Eimers is a five-time Gordon Bennett champion and holds the race’s duration record (92+hours) and the record for the number of times a pilot has competed in the race.
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