Hot air balloon festival dedicated to ground-breaking flight

Château-d’Oex’s 41st International Balloon Festival got underway on Saturday January 26, and this year’s event was dedicated to the first round-the-world flight in a hot air balloon.

Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones completed the flight in 1999. They launched from Château-d’Oex on March 1 and landed in the Egyptian desert on March 21, having travelled some 25,361 miles without landing.

The pair’s Rozière ballon—which was named the Breitling Orbiter 3, being the third of its kind—combined elements from hot air and helium balloons. It had been designed and constructed by Bristol-based Cameron Balloons specifically for the ground-breaking round-the-world flight. It carried fuel for the epic journey in 28 cylinders mounted around the gondola, with four additional cylinders having been added shortly before launch due to concerns about fuel consumption that were subsequently justified.

Bretrand Piccard later achieved a similar feat when he highlighted the potential of environmentally friendly transport by flying Solar Impulse, a solar-powered plane, around the world, although this was done in a number of stages.

Both Picard and Jones were present at the event to launch the Piccard-Jones Eco Trophy, which is a hot air balloon race for balloons featuring advanced technology.

The weeklong event, which takes place at a ski resort in canton of Vaud, is the largest hot air balloon festival in the Alps. It regularly attracts more than 10,000 visitors, and this year’s event featured 70 balloons from 70 different countries. The event also includes a night glow event and a children’s day.

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