Thursday, 30 September 2010

Gordon Bennett

Balloonists in the the Gordon Bennett cup, the world's oldest, simplest and slowest air race, launched from near Bristol, late on Saturday night. Started in 1906, the rules are simple: take off from a fixed point and fly as far as you can on one fill of hydrogen - the winner being the balloon that travels the furthest.

This year, the winners, a Swiss team - SWI2 - made up of Kurt Frieden and Pascal Witpraechtiger, landed near Constanta, Romania, having travelled 1,513 miles (2,435km). However, a balloon piloted by Americans Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis, went missing in thunderstorms over the Adriatic. The search continues.

Twenty teams, from 11 countries, competed this year, the first time that the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett has taken off from the UK. Where they eventually landed can be seen here. Described by the organisers as "the oldest and most prestigious aeronautical race in the world", it has always generated interesting news stories, such as the following report from the Observer, October 18 1908.

As to who was the original Gordon Bennett, see here and here.

1 comment:

  1. JG Bennett, what a character. He makes Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch look mild-mannered. Sorry to hear about the missing crew. I guess it remains a dangerous sport. I know that Walter Wellman covered the balloon races out of Paris in the late 1800s. It was probably the inspiration for his motor-balloon attempts at the Pole in the early 1900s.