The official FAI Race invitation was sent all FAI countries. Our Australian Ballooning Federation returned the required forms for the nomination of TEAM AUSTRALIA 1 – Ruth Wilson & Tanys McCarron. We paid the Euros750 entry fee and began our planning for the race.
What did we have? A pilot plus a co-pilot. What did we need?
A full operational gas balloon, trailer, onboard equipment – transponder S Mode, radios, iPads with aeronautical maps of Europe, paper maps, satellite phones for balloon and chase vehicle, GPS, ELT, head lamps, instrument lighting, sleeping bags, life raft, immersion suits, oxygen, 2 helmets, warm clothing, food, water both for ballast and drinking and the important power supply (extra batteries). Not to forget the most important of all our AUSTRALIAN FLAG. And I am sure there is more to add.
Then there was the documentation to finalise – around a dozen in all including insurance Swiss Francs 4,200,000 for third party liability during the 2018 Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett.
Enter Gordon Bennett Team Swiss #2. Nicolas Tièche and Laurent Sciboz from Fribourg. Emails flew back and forth between Australia and Switzerland. HB-QHP – ‘AJOIE’ balloon was offered for rent. And such a pretty balloon (photo below). Tanys arranged for a team logo to be designed incorporating AJOIE. I looked online for red team flight jackets.
May 29 dawned bright but the day turned dark when advice arrived that the AJOIE balloon had not passed its Grab Test and was deemed un-airworthy – not to be flown again. What would we do now? Search for our smiles that had disappeared and cancel said logo and jackets.
Our Swiss pilots suggested we contact the German Munster Balloon Club as they had a Club balloon that might be available for rent. Gas ballooning is active in Germany but there are only a limited number of gas balloons available in Europe, especially the 1000 metre envelope required for the GB Race. Word came back to us that D-OWML was available for rent.
Fortune was on our side so our spirits soared once more. Although there was still much to be formulated and organised before our smiles would become more permanent.
What will tomorrow bring?