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The Gordon Bennet Cup (or Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett) is the most famous aviation event in the world and is the ultimate challenge for balloon pilots and their equipment. The objectives of the race are simple: to fly the furthest distance from the start in the open wicker basket of a gas balloon.

This international gas balloon competition was initiated in 1906 by the adventurer and newspaper magnate James Gordon Bennett. In that year 16 balloons started from the gardens of the former Tuileries Palace in Paris. None of those present to see the event could possibly have imagined that the race would continue to be staged right into the 21st century.

The 56th race will take place in 2012, 106 years after that first race. The rules remain almost unchanged. The winner will be the team that flies the longest distance in a straight line between the start and the landing point. The actual distance flown and the time taken are of no significance. The competing balloons are allowed a maximum volume of 1050 cubic meters (about 37’080 cubic feet). The pilot and co-pilot must be the same nationality and their country must also be a member of the FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale). Each country may enter a maximum of 3 teams. The winning country has the right to stage the next-but-one race, normally 2 years later.

In 2010 the Swiss team of Kurt Frieden and Pascal Witprächtiger won the race, with a straight-line distance flight of 2434 Km from Bristol, England to Constanta, Romania that lasted over 59 hours and covered an actual distance flown of 3300Km. This win laid the foundation for Switzerland to host the 2012 race, which will be based in Toggenburg Switzerland.
http://www.gordonbennett2012.ch/en-coupe-aeronautique.html

The winner this year was the team France 1 with Sebastien ROLLAND & Vincent LEYS, landing near Santa Olalla del Cala / Spain, after 1820,06km in 69hrs 02min
Congratulations to all participants!

http://www.gordonbennett2012.ch/read-news/items/en-official-results-final.html

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Additional Photos by Brigitte Bauquis (Yassou) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 37 W: 0 N: 24] (466)
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