Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race – The PilotsSeptember 1, 2018
Generosity of Swiss PilotsSeptember 3, 2018
We are on countdown to GB launch day from a stunning city in Switzerland – Bern.
My first gas balloon flight occurred in Switzerland in 1985 with the amazing Swiss female gas balloon pilot Regula Hug-Messner. We had met at a dinner in Zurich three nights earlier. I had no idea who she was. “Would you like to go for a gas balloon flight?” she casually asked. No such possibility existed in my home country – Australia.
We launched from Attisholz, 91km from Zurich. I clutched my passport close to me dreaming of floating over the borders of the surrounding countries. After 13 hours floating in circles in a stable friendly sky we landed near Lohn. Still in Switzerland!
I knew I had to return to do this – I wanted the thrill of leaving one country standing in a balloon basket to land in a different country in that same balloon basket while waving my Australian passport. Only those who live on a island continent may understand this fantasy of mine that still remains with me today :).
Return I did for many years to clock up hours in the gas balloon with co-owners Regula and David Levin, 1992 Gordon Bennett Race winner. Two amazing individuals who touched my life through ballooning to remain dear and close friends always. Now both departed but loved still.
When I find myself feeling anxious about any particular aspect of this upcoming challenge as I endeavour to pull it altogether, I ask myself “what would Regula say?” Her words from all those years ago remain clear in my memory. “Keep your gear and weights to an absolute mimimum so you can carry extra sand for ballast. Manage pilot fatigue and if the weather co-operates your flight should go safely”.
Preparation! Preparation! Preparation! Have I done enough? Has Tanys done enough?
What will tomorrow bring?