Sad News: Balloon of Abruzzo/Davis found in Adriatic Sea

December, 06

In the early morning of monday 06 december 2010, a fishing boat in the Adriatic Sea has found the basket with the deceased Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis.

This is very sad news, as we were still hoping for a miracle. However this could be expected.

Until now, the exact circumstances of the accident are still unknown. Hopefully this discovery will give an answer to the questions "How?" and "Why?".

We want to give our condolences to both families.


More info:



October, 04

In memoriam
Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis
Team USA 2 - Gordon Bennett 2010
Lost above the Adriatic sea on Wednesday 28 September 2010 flying their aerostat N-801NM.
Balloonist never die, they only fly higher
RIP Richard & Carol. We will take you with us in our heart during all our future gas balloon flights.
Gino Ciers & Jürgen Dobbelaere - team BEL 1- “Belgica”

With this very sad news we close this website for this year. Thanks to all who visited our site and flew “with us”. 

The article below is from CBS News

The six-day search for missing American balloonists Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis was called off Monday after a robotic camera surfaced from the depths of the Adriatic Sea.

The camera was looking for debris on the seabed at depths reaching more than 650 feet, according to Italian Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Massimo Maccheroni. There is no hope the pair survived.

The last message from Abruzzo, 47, and Davis, 65, came three days into their attempt to win the world's oldest long-distance balloon race, the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett.
Picked up by the Italian coast guard at 8:15 a.m. local time (2:15 a.m. EDT), the radio transmission indicated the balloonists had suffered what was described as, "a sudden and unexpected failure."
"The pilot said in English that they were going down very fast toward the sea," Rear Admiral Salvatore Giuffre told the Associated Press Television News agency. "Those were the last words he said."

Based on data from tracking units in the Adriatic, race organizers said the balloon had begun a moderate descent, which increased to about 50 miles and hour before contact was lost.
The chances of surviving the impact when hurtling down that fast were deemed to be "unlikely".

Search and rescue teams from the Italian coast guard, the U.S. Navy -- including two U.S. Air Force C-130 planes flying out of Ramstein, Germany -- along with Croatian coastal aircraft crews, scoured the Adriatic Sea, concentrating on an area about twelve miles off the Italian coast where the last transmissions were pinpointed.

At one point, eight Italian divers using underwater cameras were involved. Searches were also made on land in Italy and Croatia.
Debris was found floating in the area late on Friday, but officials couldn't initially say whether it came from the missing balloon.
No trace of the two pilots has been found. They were equipped with survival suits, flotation devices and electronic beacons.

Abruzzo, who worked in a prominent family business in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Davis, a radiologist specializing in reading mammograms, were both experienced and highly regarded balloonists.
They won the Gordon Bennett Cup in 2004. Started in 1906, the competition is the oldest and one of the most prestigious air balloon races of its kind.

The rules are simple: take off from a fixed point - in this case, Bristol, England - and fly as far as possible on one fill of hydrogen. Twenty teams took part, nineteen of them landing in Croatia.

Crammed into a basket only about five feet wide, the balloonists endure freezing temperatures, high winds and other untold perils. They can only control their craft by releasing gas to descend, or throwing out sand to go up.

Also a compilation video of our adventure is added

October, 20

On the index page we also placed a compilation movie of our first participation to this beautiful Gordon Bennett race!

Movie of our take off in Bristol

October, 02

On the index page we placed a movie from our take-off. Thanks to Reginald Geerinck for this movie!

very sad news from control center

October, 01

News Announcement 1800UTC/1900BST, Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett Control Centre

The Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) has continued to search throughout the day with support from other civil and military assets, including US and Croatian Military.

Both families have been informed that the Gordon Bennett 2010 Control Centre received recorded transponder readings from the air traffic control unit local to the area where the balloon had last been tracked. Transponder readings show the height, time and location of a balloon in a coded form.

The Gordon Bennett 2010 Control Centre has examined the transponder readings from Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer-Davis’ balloon, registration N801NM, and calculated the change in height of the balloon over the time period recorded. The data show that the balloon had a moderate descent rate initially which then increased into a high rate of descent, to around 50mph.

This is very pessimistic information. At this rate of descent to the surface, survival would be unlikely.

It is the opinion of the Gordon Bennett 2010 Flight Control Team that the balloon appears to have suffered a sudden and unexpected failure. The cause of this tragedy is still being examined.

Immediate and extended family of pilot Rymer-Davis politely request that the press do not make contact with them.

Both families are most grateful for the good wishes and messages of support.

There are no further planned statements on the site.

Message - october

October, 01

Today Gino & Jürgen did send this mail to the competition centre:

Gala Awards Dinner – 6pm at Council House in Bristol on 2/10/2010

F.o.a: The organizing committee of the GB2010

Dear Hannah,
Dear Don,

First of all we would like to express our sincere thanks for all the efforts you have made in order to organize the GB2010. It was a real pleasure to participate in this event!

Unfortunately the problematic happenings with the USA2 team impose a sad shadow on the event, and our thoughts are going to the pilots’ family and friends now.
In view of these unfortunate happenings we have decided not to come over this Saturday for the ceremonial banquet.

Our tracker, together with the life raft and the ELT, we will hand-over to Vincent Leys who will bring along this equipment next Saturday to Bristol.

Many thanks to the entire organizing team, you all did a great job!

Kind regards,
Gino & Jurgen (BEL1) D-OCOX


Race update

September, 29

All balloons have landed in the mean time.
Unfortunately there is one gasballoon USA2 that was blown into the bad weather above the Adriatic Sea. Air Traffic Control and the competition center have lost all contact with him since this morning. Of course we keep hoping all the best for Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis, but because the time is counting and the night is starting, this is worrying. We don't give up hope yet and we keep believing in it. In our hart we are with them and we pray for them!

Alle ballons zijn inmiddels geland.
Helaas echter is één gasballon: USA 2 blijkbaar in slecht weer terechtgekomen boven de Adriatische zee en is de luchtverkeersleiding en ons competition center al sinds deze morgen alle contact met hen kwijt. Wij blijven natuurlijk het beste hopen voor Richard Abruzzo & Carol Rymer Davis maar nu de uren voorbij tikken en de nacht valt wordt de toestand zeer onrustwekkend. Toch geven we zeker de hoop niet op en blijven geloven in een goede afloop voor Richard en Carol. In ons hart zijn we bij hen en wij bidden voor hen.

Message from Gino and Jürgen after their arrival home

September, 29

The crew and the pilots of BelgicaII arrived home last night in good condition.
Gino and Jürgen are watching the tracks of the balloons that are still flying.
One flew exactly the same route as Michel has calculated for us. With some more experience, a lighter balloon, and more controlled use of ballast (and maybe the pilots should be wasting a few kilograms) we would also have been there now.
Respect, deep respect for the pilots that are now, Wednesday morning, still in the air! You need to have participated to know what it is! Huge, very huge of those guys!
For us the first Gordon Bennett was a fantastic learning school. We now know that our BelgicaII  is able to resist a lot!
A landing from over the hills with wind turbines at the coast with 80km/hour at 1000m height to 20km/hour at the touchdown itself, I can guarantee that the balloon and ourselves underwent some big shocks.
Finally everything was ok. We landed in a beautiful area, on a road, and the chase crew arrived only 1 hour after our landing.
More than 1000km, in the middle of the final ranking. We are happy! We will never forget this!
Thank you Leon, Anita and Francois for being chase crew and for all the help! Thank you Nele and Barbara for understanding.
Bob and Regi, thank you very much for the use of the equipment (basket, etc) and for the help at take-off!
Bob, Regi, Danny, Philippe, Stefaan, etc. thank you to come to the take-off in Bristol.
Our ground base station Hendrik and co for updating our website and to control everything.
Michel Demeyer, you are a fantastic meteo specialist and gasballoon expert!
Thank you everyone who helped us with equipment, cards, batteries, satellite telephone, etc.
Also a big thank to balloon minded Belgium that we could and might participate to this 54 Gordon Bennett competition.
Thanks also for the sympathetic reactions that we got!
In the meantime our instructor and mentor Willy Eimers are still airborne! Unfortunately it looks less good for team USA2, that has big problems above the Adriatic sea. Let’s pray that it ends good.

Crew en piloten Belgica II zijn deze nacht veilig en wel thuisgekomen.
Gino en Jurgen bekijken de tracks van nog varende ballons.
Eentje vaart precies de route die Michel ons had uitgestippeld. Met wat meer ervaring, lichtere ballon, en zorgvuldige controle van ballastgebruik (en misschien piloten ook enkele kg vermageren) waren we daar nu ook geweest.
Respect, deep respect, voor de piloten die nu, woensdagmorgen, nog in de lucht hangen! Je moet het gedaan hebben om te weten wat het is. Klasse, grote klasse van die mannen!
Voor ons was deze eerste Gordon Bennett een fantastische leerschool. We weten nu dat onze BelgicaII nog tegen veel bestand is.
Een landing van over de heuvels met windmolens aan de kust met maar liefst 80km/u op ongeveer 1 km hoogte naar 20km/u bij de touch down zelf, ik kan u verzekeren dat de ballon en wijzelf klappen te verwerken kregen.
Eind goed, al goed, in een mooie streek geland, op een baan, volgers waren reeds na een uurtje bij ons.
Meer dan 1000km, mooie middenmoot. Wij zijn tevreden! Dit zullen we nooit meer vergeten!
Bedankt Leon, Anita en Francois voor het volgen en de hulp. Nele en Barbara voor het begrip.
Bob en Regi hartelijk dank voor het uitlenen van het materiaal (mand, enz.) en voor de hulp bij het opstijgen.
Bob, Regi, Danny, Philippe, Stefaan, enz. bedankt om ter plaatste te komen in Bristol bij het opstijgen.
Ons thuisteam Hendrik en co voor het verzorgen van de website en het regelen van alles.

Michel De Meyer, je bent een top meteoman en gasballonkenner!
Bedankt iedereen die ons hielp met materiaal, kaarten, batterijen, satelliettelefoon, enz.
Bedankt ballonminded België, dat we mochten en konden meedoen aan deze 54ste GB en voor alle sympathieke reacties!
Inmiddels is onze instructeur en mentor Willi Eimers nog steeds in de lucht. Helaas ziet het er niet zo goed uit voor team USA 2 dat blijkbaar zware problemen heeft boven de Adriatische zee.We bidden ervoor dat het ook voor hun goed afloopt.





Balloon post

September, 28

The team sent us a picture of the moment where they were writing the balloon post:

Back to belgium

September, 28

Our team spent the night in coastal town Canet, very close to the beach. The weather is beautiful here but not really warm. The whole team slept like a log, and waking up is difficult... Now we will have a nice breakfast and after that we will drive back home with the camper.

Now still 600km to drive! We are driving in shifts. We are driving straight to bad weather.


September, 27

Landesfest net achter de rug! Na 2 dagen apenootjes, snickers en andere rommel te eten in de mand, vanavond een lekkere steak en een frisse pint! Zalig :-)
Een gezellige babbel samen met de crew waarbij alle verhalen en ervaringen naar boven komen, geleid door door de foto's genomen tijdens onze vlucht. Foto's komen de volgende dagen us!
Straks (zonder te specifieren wanneer juist ..) naar bed om morgen de rit naar huis aan te vangen..een super avontuur, prachtige ervaring waarbij enorm veel geleerd is voor volgende gasballonvaarten!
Jürgen & Gino

Landesfest has just finished! After eating two days nothing else than peanuts, snickers and other mess, we ate last evening a very nice steak with a fresh beer! Delicious!
A cozy talk together with the chase crew, discussing all stories and experiences, with as guideline the pictures taken during our flight. Pictures will be placed online in the following days... Watch us!
Soon (without specifying exactly when..) going to bed to start tomorrow with the drive back to home... an excellent adventure, wonderful experience of which we have learned a lot for gas balloon flights in the future!
Jürgen and Gino

After ballooning

September, 27

The pilots are now enjoying something they missed very hard on board:

A big thank you

September, 27

Message from the pilots:

Many thanks to all! Belgica2 2010:
-Bristol-Perpignan is 1058 km.
-We landed on a peninsula, very close to the water.
Speed at 10km before landing was 45knots, this is around 80km/h!
A very turbulent approach and landing!
What an adventure! Big respect for the teams that are continuing under these circumstances. Also a lot of thanks to Michel De Meyer to guide us and to motivate us to fly to the very last place before the coast!
Now we take some rest, and after that we drive back home with the motorhome.
Also a lot of thank to the fantastic chase crew who were able to arrive here only one hour after us!
Gino and Jürgen

Bedankt aan allen. Thanks! Belgica2 2010:
Bristol-Perpignan is 1058 km.
Geland op schiereiland vlakbij het water.
Snelheid 10km voor landing 45kn oftewel ongeveer 80km/u!
Turbulente approach en landing.
Wat een avontuur! Diep respect voor diegene die hier nog doorgaan onder deze omstandigheden. Bedankt ook Michel De Meyer om ons perfect te sturen en te motiveren om tot het uiterste puntje door te varen!
Nu rusten en dan met motorhome op t’gemak naar huis. Dank ook aan het fantastische volgteam dat hier een uurtje na ons toekwam.
Gino en Jürgen

MESSAGE from Gino

September, 27

Today almost 20 years ago, I made my first instruction flights with instructor W.F.Schaut.
Also Francois was an avid gas- and hotair balloon pilot!
After 2000 flights, we are participating to the most prestiguous balloon competition! Who could have ever imagined that!
Thank you Francois for your lessons and your wise counsels! I will be always thankful for that, like all the Belgian balloonists!

Vandaag bijna dag op dag 20 jaar geleden maakte ik mijn eerste instructie ballonvaarten met instructeur W.F.Schaut.
Ook Francois was een gedreven gas- en warmeluchtballonvaarder.
2000 vaarten verder nemen we deel aan de meest prestigieuze ballonwedstrijd. Wie had dat ooit kunnen denken!
Bedankt Francois voor je lessen en wijze raad. Ik draag u nog steeds een heel warm hart toe, net als alle Belgische ballonvaarders!


Chase crew arrived at the landing site

September, 27

Latest Update: Chase crew arrived shortly after the landing.

About 1 hour after the landing, the chase crew arrived at the landing site. Well done Jean-Francois, Leon and Anita!!! They almost drove non-stop from Bristol to Perpignan, they were even able to catch an earlier ferry. They drove trough lots of rain. Below you can see the chase vehicle that just arrived near the envelope. Also mention how good the weather is. Gino also sent us a picture of this morning, a short time before their landing.


Succesful landing near Perpignon, France!

September, 27

Latest Update: The balloon has safely landed in Perpignan, France at 09.10h local time.

Both pilots and equipment are in good condition. They were able to bring their material on a small road. They have a distance of 1057km after more than 32 hours! They are very very very close to the coast: only 1 km remaining! The approach for the landing was in a bay.

The chase crew is on the way to the landing area. They have to drive a short time after a full night of driving!


Message from pilots

September, 27

Update 06:30h local time. Message from pilots: "We are overhead Toulouse - 4000Ft - 19kts - Everything OK but cold!".

Info: Balloon is now already flying for about 30 hours!

Status update

September, 27

Update 03:00h local time. The balloon is now NE of Pau. 2 groups of balloons are now forming. 1 in the big neighbourhoud of BelgicaII. The other group is more northly: in the neighbourhoud of Angouleme, La Rochelle.

Team FRA1 is now at the Spanish coast near Tarragona at 13000ft. The first two teams are on the ground.

Some nice pictures from period before take off

September, 26

The wives of the pilots arrived back home in Hulste earlier this evening. With them some very nice stories and also a memorystick with beautiful pictures. Below we have put some of them:

Almost at end bay of biskaje

September, 26

Update: 20.00h Belgian time. The balloon is now still overhead the Bay of Biskaje. Night will begin now. Byebye sun and robably temperatures will drop down! This night they will also reach the mainland of France.

Meanwhile we are writing this message a message from the pilots comes in: "We are ready for a next cold night. See you tomorrow".

The chase crew is now 3 hours in France: driving and driving!

A picture of their current track/position:

Chase crew

September, 26

The chase crew is doing a very good job!

Planned was to take the ferry at 16.45h UK time in Dover. They were able to reach Dover even before 14.00h, and to change to a more early ferry. At this moment (15.50h Belgian time, they just left Dover and will be around 17.00h in Calais)!

Bay of Biskaje

September, 26

Update 15.30u Belgian time: BelgicaII is now overhead the Bay of Biskaje. They are not far from the coast. Distance from Bristol is already 540 km. Both pilots and equipment are very well!

Update 12.50u Belgian time

September, 26

Update 12.50u Belgian time: pilots have now crossed the small piece of mainland (France). Now they will start their dinner. Also now the crossing of the Bay of Biskaje will start. Current altitude is 7200Ft, speed: 26kts.

They have sent us a message that the temperature is 28 degrees Celcius in the sun, and that all equipment is working fine.

We also had contacts wit the chase crew. They already left Bristol this morning, and are now driving towards Dover. At 16.46h English time, they will have the ferry towards Calais, France.

Picture from the french coast

September, 26

Update 10.30 Belgian time: BelgicaII has reached the french coast. They sent us a beautiful picture of their view to the world:

Message from the pilots

September, 26

Update 09:00h Belgian time: The balloon is now overhead the sea, between UK and France! We received a SMS message (This is possible with the use of a sattelite telephone; thanks to!), below the message also translated to English:

"Everything is ok here. We are now above the clouds. We think to reach the mainland within 2 hours. It will be near Brest. Now we will have breakfast."

"Alles ok hier. We zitten boven de wolken. Normaal binnen 2u aan land in de buurt van Brest. We gaan nu ontbijten."

The current tracking:


September, 26

Follow them on the live tracking, they are now overhead Bristol City:


September, 25

Update 0:40h Belgian time: Gino and Jürgen are now airborne (they got position 7, but were launched as 5th team)! Below is a printscreen of the take-off of the BELGICAII. You can read some nice reactions of the online spectators. Below is also a picture of the pilots just before take-off.

First balloon ready for take off

September, 25

Update 0:30h Belgian time: After some waiting, the first balloons are now ready for take-off! In a few moments also team BEL1 will start!

Some delay

September, 25

Some delay: not all balloons are already inflated (however it is almost finished). Take-off will in best case start at 23.30u Belgian time. Team BEL1 has position 7.


September, 25

Update September 25, 22.00h Belgian Time: Already some balloons are filled. BelgicaII has not yet started to fill. Filling takes its time, so we will have to wait a bit longer.

Live tracking

September, 25

Live tracking will be possible from this link:

And there is also a webcam from the launchsite:

Inflation of some balloons started

September, 25

The inflation of some balloons started. Below you can see the balloon of team FRA1!

Balloon is ready to be filled

September, 25

In the picture below, you can see our balloon ready to be filled. All sandbags are ready. At this moment there is too much wind, but later this afternoon the inflation will start. Take-off is still planned for this evening. Stay tuned, we will update you with the latest info! Also a picture of the pilots this afternoon.

We have a good mood. We will make a very nice flight! Hopefully we will learn a lot from it!

Filling the sandbags

September, 25

We started to fill the sandbags. At 18.00h local time there will be the breefing, followed (probably) by the take-off (forseen around 22.00h local time)!

Bob Berben is helping us with launching. We feel very comfortable by that! Many thanks to Bob Berben and Reginald Geerinck for the use of their materials and help!

Also a lot of thanks to Michel De Meyer for his beautiful knowledge!


Preflight checks

September, 25

Doing meteo checks and discussing strategy with the team:


Belgium enjoying the English culture!

September, 24

Team BEL1 enjoying the English culture:


Mainland here we come!

September, 24

Message from the team:

English: The briefing just finished. Everything looks fine for the start tomorrow. We were the only team of which the papers and licences were verified in detail, and that even by a Belgian jury member. Of course everything was ok. Starting position 7 has been assigned to us, in the middle of the participants, so it is a good position. We go for it! Mainland, here we come!

Dutch: Briefing juist voorbij. Alles ziet er goed uit voor de start morgen. Als enige team werden onze papieren en vergunningen tot in de puntjes gecontroleerd, en dan nog wel door het Belgische jurylid. Vanzelfsprekend was alles in orde. Wij hebben startnummer 7 toegewezen gekregen, midden de groep, dus een goede positie. Wij gaan ervoor! Vasteland, here we come! 


September, 24

Today (Friday September, 24) we registered. The registration was followed by a first breefing at 14.00 local time. Below a picure:


Basket Preparations

September, 24

Update Friday September 24:

This morning we prepared the basket at the camping area. Below is a picture of the equipment.



September, 23

Below is a picture of the ferry in Calais, France (after a delay of 1 hour):


BEL1 has arrived in Bristol

September, 23

Latest news (Thursday September, 23):

Team Belgium1 has arrived in Bristol.

Early in the morning, they left Hulste, Belgium. After a strike at the ferry, they were able to cross the Northsea, and in the evening they have arrived in Bristol. Ready for the race!


September, 22

Meteogram for the coming hours in Bristol:

Last preparations done - Team BEL1 is leaving for Bristol!

September, 22

All preparations are finished. Everything is packed in. On Thursday morning July 23, team BEL1 is leaving Belgium and will arrive in Bristol on Thursday afternoon/evening.

The chase crew will use a vehicle.

Below some pictures of the chase vehicle.

Message of monday September 20, 2010

September, 20

Our gasballoon BELGICAII had an important review on Saturday morning 18/09/2010 by Mr. Bob Berben and pilot Gino Ciers. This review was planned especially to detect small holes and leaks.
To be able to perform this test, we needed to inflate the balloon by using a strong fan, and we went inside it where we checked and verified everything.
Three tiny leaks were detected and were very qualitatively repaired by Bob. We are very grateful for the support gas balloon expert and pilot Bob offers us… What we can learn from him is priceless!
Also many thanks to Leon and Jan for the very appreciated help during the unpacking and packing.
Now the counting down has really started: this Thursday we leave for Bristol and the big adventure will start. But first meteorology and strategy meeting with Michel De Meyer Wednesday afternoon.
Let's hope that, after all the money and time that we have already invested in this huge adventure, the meteo will be favorable.
We are already very much looking forward to this competition!

Op zaterdagmiddag 18/9/10 werd onze gasballon BELGICA II door Dhr. Bob Berben en piloot Gino Ciers nog eens grondig nagekeken op gaatjes of lekken. De ballon werd daarvoor helemaal opgeblazen met lucht door middel van een krachtige ventilator, en dan binnenin helemaal nagekeken en gecontroleerd. Er werden 3 piepkleine gaatjes gevonden en die werden door Bob vakkundig gedicht. We zijn gasballon kenner/piloot Bob zeer dankbaar voor de steun die hij ons biedt… onbetaalbaar wat wij van hem leren!
Ook dank aan Leon en Jan voor de gewaardeerde hulp bij het uit en inpakken.
Nu is het aftellen, donderdag a.s. vertrekken we naar Bristol en begint het grote avontuur.
Maar eerst woensdagmiddag meteovergadering met Michel De Meyer en strategiebespreking.
Laat ons hopen dat ook de weergoden ons gunstig gezind zijn na het vele geld en de tijd die we in dit immens avontuur investeerden. We kijken er alvast gretig naar uit.



A picture of the ‘life raft’ that must be on board during the GB 2010. Crossing the sea is nearly sure and the organisation and the FAI demands that following safety equipment should be on board of the small basket: survival suits, life jackets, dinghies or life rafts for both pilots this takes a LOT of space and limits the ballast that we can take…


Energy on board - Testflight - press


Below is a message from Gino:

An important problem during a duration flight is to have enough energy to be able to give power to all the necessary instruments (transponder, airband radio, stroboscope, GPS devices, etc.).
In the meantime we have tested different types of batteries and in cooperation with our sponsor "Battery Supplies" from Waregem, we have chosen for a certain type of 12V batteries which appears to be optimal for our purposes!
There will also be a solar panel onboard (Thanks Bob!) which will be able to charge the batteries.
Hendrik has built a beautiful power distribution unit with sufficient fuses, a power monitoring unit and a charge unit for the batteries. At this time, this box is being tested intensively!
And for next week a very last short "reality test flight" starting from Gladbeck.
You can see it, nothing is left to chance!
Also the Belgian press has heard about our adventure, and I already got the first telephone calls with a demand for more information. Happily a lot of information about the race and its history can be retrieved on this website.
Also a lot of people are writing our guestbook and signing in to our newsletter. This is SUPER!

Een belangrijk probleem tijdens een duurvaart is over voldoende energie beschikken om gedurende de ganse vaart alle nodige instrumenten aan de praat te houden. Transponder, luchtvaartradio, nachtverlichting, GPS’sen, enz. Wij hebben inmiddels verschillende batterijen uitgetest en in samenwerking met sponsor battery supplies uit Waregem gekozen voor een bepaald soort 12 v batterijen die prima blijken te voldoen. Er zal ook een zonnepaneel (thanks Bob!) aan boord meegenomen worden om deze batterijen op te laden. Hendrik bouwde een mooie ‘stroomverdeelkast’ met voldoende beveiligingen voor in de mand en ook deze wordt momenteel grondig uitgetest aan de grond.
En voor volgende week is nog een allerlaatste korte “reality testvaart” gepland vanuit Gladbeck. U ziet het, niets wordt aan het toeval overgelaten.
Inmiddels heeft blijkbaar ook de Belgische pers lucht gekregen van ons avontuur en kreeg ik al de eerste telefoontjes met vraag om meer informatie. Gelukkig kan men veel vinden op deze site over de Gordon Bennett en zijn historie.
Ook schrijven steeds meer mensen in op ons gastenboek en nieuwsbrief, en dat is SUPER!

Some stories from old Gordon bennett books


However it is still a very difficult and challanging race, many years ago it must have been even more difficult. In the beginning years of the Gordon Bennett, participants did not have any gps, satellite telephone, computer models of meteo information,...

There are some old books of participants who describe their stories and their feelings about the race. Those books are very nice to see how gasballooning evoluated during the last century. Those stories are really breathtaking and give you undoubtedly goosebumbs! Below is a quote from the book "Belgica" written by Ernest Demuyter. The book is written in French but we translated it.

Original text: "Au moment où nous survolons la frontière russo-polonaise, se produit un incident qui aurait pu avoir des suites graves. Des balles sifflent tout près de notre ballon, qui n'en poursuit pas moins sa course rapide. Que se passe-t-il? On tire sur nous. Si le ballon était touché dans sa partie supérieure, un trou, quoique assez inoffensif, pourrait occasionner une perte de gaz, et ce n'est pas le moment de courir ce risque. Nous pensons que, sans doute, quelques garde-frontières se sont émus de notre passage. Cette énorme balle blanche qui fonce dans l'espace à faible hauteur les impressionne-t-elle au point de les pousser à se servir de leurs armes? Heureusement, cet incident ne dure que quelques secondes, mais nous n'avons pas de chance avec les premiers humains que nous rencontrons après ce voyage solitaires."

Or in English: "When we flew over the Polish-Russian border an incident happened, which could have had serious consequences. Bullets whistled close to our balloon. What happens there? They shoot at us. If the bullets would have hit the balloon in its upper part, a hole could cause a loss of gas, and this is not the time to run that risk. We believe that, without doubt, some border security guards have moved our way. This huge white ball that moves through the sky at a low height pushes them to use their weapons? Fortunately, the incident lasted only a few seconds, but we have no luck with the first people we meet after this solitary journey."

This quote describes the first participation of Ernest Demuyter to the Gordon Bennett race. It was in the race edition of 1912. This edition was record breaking: the race started in Stuttgart (Germany) and the winners (a French team) landed in the neigbourhoud of Moscow (Russia) after almost 2200 kilometers! This record did stand for 93 years, until Bob Berben and Benoit Siméons beated it! At this time Ernest Demuyter was only 19 years old, and he made also a huge distance of 1200 kilometers.



In the figure below, we plotted (starting from Bristol) the last two winning distances from Belgian participants. In red is the distance of Bob Berben and Benoît Siméons of around 3400km (From Albuquerque USA straight to Canada)! In blue is the distance from Philippe De Cock and Ronny Van Havere (around 2450 km starting from Waasmunster, Belgium, with balloon BELGICAII).


There is also a "competition area". If you are out of the competition area, you are disqualified. This can be for diplomatic or for safety reasons. Some teams should take a too big risk if some countries would be in the competition area (example: Greenland).

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Preparations of BELGICAII


We replaced the basket (the one that we use to make our flights with during the year) with an ultra light competition basket, that we can borrow from Bob Berben.

The construction of this small basket makes it much lighter, and it is also equipped with a 'bed'. The bed is in fact a kind of panel at the side of the basket, which can be opened, and where we can put our legs trough. The other part of the bed is a hammock.
This allows one pilot to sleep, while the other controls the balloon. Both pilots sleep in shifts. This race is mentally really hard, so the quality of the short sleeps must be very good.

The envelope is already branched to this basket, and this entirity is now hanging with a special construction to the ceiling of our hangar to try out everything we can! This simulates that the balloon is in the air.
It allows us to understand which is the best way to 'decorate' our 'living room' for hopefully 3 days and nights of non-stop flying! If everything is ready, we also want to make a test flight with the final configuration which will be used during the Gordon Bennett race. This is a really indispensable part of the preparations!

Some dimensions of the basket: width: 110cm, length: 125cm, height: 110cm... And that is the only space where two adult persons need to stay in during hopefully 3 days...

There is only one living room, so no separate sleeping room, and even no separate toilet room!

This gasballoon race is 100% adventure! Every smallest detail must be prepared!

We have some pictures available from the preparations to the Gordon Bennett race!

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We can use the small and light balloon basket from Bob Berben to fly this Gordon Bennett. In our warehouse, we are busy to prepare everything for the race and installing everything into the basket.

New Trailer is ready


Our new trailer is ready:


Electronics performance tests


Currently we are testing our electronics systems. All our equipment need to be long-lasting. We must trust for 100% on our batteries, under all circumstances (weather, temperature, shocks,...).

Soon we will put more info on this page about our preparations.



There are also limited edition pins available of the gasballoon D-OCOX.

Price is 3 euros + shipping costs. You can send an email to to order one.

We are counting down to the start of the Launch window of gordon bennett


We are counting down to the start of the launch window (between 25th until 29 September 2010, dependant on the weather).

There are days remaining until the start!

Official website of Gordon Bennett in Bristol, 2010:

Wonderful training flight from Germany to Norway July 14, 2010

In April 2010, we made a fabulous flight from Gladbeck, Germany straight to NORWAY!

The flight took us over 5 countries: Germany, the Netherlands, Danmark, Sweden and finally Norway. Distance was 883km, with even 280km over the sea.

For us a big adventure and a nice exercice for the Gordon Bennett.

You can read the story from our passenger, Bennie Bos, on his beautiful website: