Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race


Yet, another use of GPS technology...

Today is the first day of the Gordon Bennett International Gas Balloon Race. This is a multi-day, distance race with gas filled (hydrogen and helium) balloons.

These balloons are very different than hot-air balloons.

This year's launch is being hosted in the UK in the Southern town of Bristol.

Twenty international teams have entered this year. Three are American teams.

The competition area is basically all of Western Europe, and the winner of the race is the balloon team that simply travels the farthest distance from the common launch point, in Bristol, to first landing...where-ever. The race can last 4 to 5 days and the teams can travel well over 1000 miles.

To give you an idea of the distances flown in this race - the 2005 Gordon Bennett challenge was held in the USA. After launching from Albuquerque NM the last two competing balloons landed in Florida....(I think that was in 2005???)

Anyway, the teams must remain aloft the entire time, using winds aloft for steering and to gain maximum distance and advantage. Altitude is controlled by ballasting sand (to climb) or sometimes venting gas (to descend).

This years meteorological forecasts are expected to take the balloons: across the English Channel and France, out over the Mediterranean Sea, across central Italy, into Bosnia/Croatia, and perhaps as far east as Romania or Greece.......That's the "forecast" anyway.

With so much water to traverse, it should be a very interesting and challenging race.......

All balloons carry GPS telemetry equipment for official judging, and that telemetry can be view in real time at the web link below. Most, if not all, also carry satellite phones to discuss their route and altitude plans with a ground strategist - who are usually back in their home country. Most use a solar panel hung out during the day to power and recharge their electronics.

So, over the next few days......if you are interested..........you might check out this website occasionally to see the balloon teams' current positions and their GPS recorded ground tracks traveled during the race.

It really is an amazing challenge.


That is really interesting.

That is really interesting.

All the worlds indeed a stage and we are merely players. Rush


Thank you for some very intersting info.

...and going....And going....and going....

a little over forty hours and 7 balloons are still in it.

Swiss 2 has cleared Italian airspace by the night time restriction (no visual flight in Italy at night), and will be flying into the Balkans.

(Italy would not grant a night waver for the race, as other Euro countries did.)

All the other balloons that are West of Italy will now try to slow down to avoid reaching the Italian coast before sunrise. I'm not sure they will be able to slow enough to acheive that.



That is pretty neat to look at.....I wonder if the are getting verbal directions....."turn balloon at next cloud" --- just kidding

Missing Balloon

In case you guys haven't been following the news there was an accidenton in the Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race.

(AP)The Italian coast guard said Monday that it had called off the search for a pair of American balloonists who disappeared last week in the Adriatic Sea.

The search was called off after a final attempt to locate Richard Abruzzo, of Albuquerque, N.M., and Carol Rymer Davis, of Denver, had failed, said coast guard spokesman Lt. Massimo Maccheroni.

The veteran pilots were flying in the 54th Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race in New Mexico when contact was lost Wednesday. Race organizers said the two plunged toward the Adriatic Sea at 50 mph (80 kph) and likely didn't survive.

Since then, search and rescue teams with the Italian coast guard, the U.S. Navy and Croatian coastal aircraft crews have been scouring the Adriatic Sea. Over the weekend, divers had joined in the search.

Abruzzo, 47, and Davis, 65, won the 2004 edition of the Gordon Bennett race and the 2003 America's Challenge gas race _ one of Abruzzo's five victories in that race.

Abruzzo worked as part of a prominent family business in Albuquerque that is involved in real estate and operations of the Sandia Peak tramway, Sandia Ski Area and Ski Santa Fe. Richard Abruzzo's involvement focused on ski area management.

Davis was a radiologist who specialized in reading breast mammograms.

Lets pray they are found safe.

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Richard Abruzzo

Richard (and his father, too) were very experienced balloonists. The Balloon museum in ABQ is named after his father.

This year's Gordon Bennett was especially challenging with so many over water segments. Encountering bad weather over water does not give a balloonist many options.

No one yet knows exactly what Richard and Carol's circumstances were, but in deteriorating weather it can be a difficult decision to make - whether to continue flying, or ditch a perfectly good aircraft in the sea. It appears Richard and Carol chose to continue flying.

The only other death I am aware of in the GB Race was in 1995. In that incident the GB event organizers had prior clearance from Belarus government and were in contact with Belarus ATC. However the Belarus millitary ordered the shoot down the American balloon of Alan Fraenckel and John Stuart-Jervis - two and a half hours after it entered Belarus airspace.

To this day Belarus and its millatary have still not apologised for the American teams murder.


Tomorrow, Wednesday, is the start of the Americas Challange Gas Balloon Race from Albuquerque, NM. You can follow the race via real-time GPS tracking at this link...