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Gordon Bennett! Swiss win world’s oldest balloon race

Two men in a balloon basket

The winners of this year's Gordon Bennett Cup: Laurent Sciboz (left) and Nicolas Tièche from Fribourg, Switzerland


Swiss teams have come first and second in the 63rd Gordon Bennett Cup, the oldest aviation competition in the world. They managed to land their gas balloons farther from the starting point than any of their opponents. 

All 20 teams took off from the French city of Montbéliard, near the Swiss border, on Friday. Eighty-three hours later the winners, Laurent Sciboz and Nicolas Tièche from Fribourg, touched down on the edge of the Black Sea 1,775 kilometres (1,103 miles) away. 

Runners-up Kurt Frieden und Pascal Witprächtiger from Thurgau made it 1,750km in their gas balloonexternal link, the Swiss Balloon Associationexternal link said on Tuesday. The third-placed French team notched up 1,719km. 

The third Swiss team – up to three teams per country can take part – headed west and came down after 633kn in northwest France. 

Historic competition 

The Gordon Bennett Cupexternal link, named after James Gordon Bennett Jr., publisher of the New York Herald, brings together the world’s best gas balloonists, who compete with each other on a simple principle: each team launches from the same location with the same quantity of gas. The team whose balloon lands farthest from the starting point after an average of 3-4 days of uninterrupted flight wins. 

The first edition of the balloon competition, launched in 1906, was held in front of 200,000 spectators at the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris.

Gordon Bennett! Balloon race over Bern

As the Gordon Bennett gas balloon competition takes place in Bern for the first time, we also look back to its early days. 


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