Friday, March 12, 2010
EXPLORER DAVID HEMPLEMAN-ADAMS BRINGS THE WORLD’S BALLOONING CROWN TO ENGLAND FOR THE FIRST TIME- ANOTHER FIRST FOR UK SPORT
BRITISH EXPLORER WINS WORLD OLDEST BALLOON RACE ON HIS 52ND BIRTHDAY
David Hempleman-Adams, world class explorer and balloon pilot WINS the 52nd Gordon Bennett Cup on his 52nd birthday!
The Gas Balloon Race will come to ENGLAND in 2010 for the first time since the race started in 1906.
David Hempleman-Adams took off Monday morning, October 6th at just after Midnight, our time, from the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta where the Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race took place.
David flew with co-pilot Dr. Jon Mason. The rest of his team included Clive Bailey, from Bailey Balloons who is once again the Flight Director and the British Team Manager, and together with Luc Trullemans (the forecaster) helped work out the best track, keeping an eye on fuel management, pilot rest time, navigation and of course the best winds and altitude that carried them to this incredible victory. The Austrian Team was in second place and in third the Americans.
A delighted David Hempleman-Adams comments: “This year has seen an incredible rise in British sporting triumphs. As a nation we did extremely well at the Olympics and I am delighted to bring the world’s ballooning crown back to London where we will host the 2010 Gordon Bennett Balloon Race, the world’s oldest balloon race.”
Luc Trullemans (a famous Belgium weather TV presenter and forecaster) gave the team incredibly detailed, often hourly and accurate forecasting for David. Team Manager, Clive Bailey talked to David hourly whilst he was flying up until he landed at 5.00 am this morning near Lake Michigan, North of Chicago which is a flight of 1922 km.
Co-Pilot Dr. Jon Mason is said to be suffering from exhaustion, a condition he can readily diagnose. They have spent almost 4 entire days in the air, beating off teams from many other countries across the world. They are now all recovering well after their sleep deprivation!!
By winning, the Gordon Bennett Cup will launch from England in September. David came 3rd two years ago, (last year’s race was cancelled) taking off from Albuquerque and landing in Northern Canada.
About the Gordon Bennett Race…see www.balloonfiesta.com
Long before men have tried to fly around the world in a balloon, balloon pilots have tried to capture the oldest and most prestigious prize in aviation, the Coupe Gordon Bennett. Also known as the Gordon Bennett Cup, the goal of this age-old competition is to fly the farthest distance from the launch site.
Adventurer and newspaper tycoon Gordon Bennett initiated this timeless challenge. He sponsored an annual auto race, airplane races and even co-funded Stanley’s expedition to Africa to find Livingston. In 1906 he inaugurated his International balloon race from the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, France before a crowd of 200-hundred thousand. The first winner of the event was an American, Lieutenant Frank P. Lahm. He and his co-pilot flew more than 400 miles to the northeast coast of England.
The second race in 1907 from Saint Louis drew 300-thousand spectators. By 1909, it was 400 thousand spectators in Paris again. Each year, special airmail and other commemorative items were carried. Pilots struggled to stretch their journeys farther. In 1908, the Swiss winners set a world duration record for small gas sport balloons of 73 hours aloft. That record
that would stand for 87 years and not be broken until 1995 when another Gordon Bennett team led by Wilhelm Elmers would raise the bar to 92 hours.
Over the past two decades, the race has moved from country to country, where traditionally, the winning country hosts the next year’s competition.
Each country is allowed to enter their three best balloon teams. Everyone has to use the same lifting gas and similar balloons. Only two balloon pilots can be on board each balloon. Once airborne each team tries to fly farther than any other team, non-stop through days and nights, dodging storms and fighting fatigue. The winners are declared as the best balloon
pilots in the world.
Most Balloon Fiesta events feature hot-air balloons, which usually can stay aloft for only a couple of hours. Gas balloons, use lighter-than-air gases such as helium and hydrogen for lift, and can stay aloft for 60 hours or more. The balloon that flies the furthest – in accordance with the rules – wins. Some flights reach Canada and the U.S. East Coast. The gas balloons inflate in the late afternoon and take off in the early evening – timing that increases the balloons’ flight duration.