On June 21-28, 2008 the 8th FAI World Hot Air Airship Championship will take place in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
In addition to the hot air airship competitions an International Balloon Fiesta will also take place.
According to the preliminary programme of the Organizers, about 20 hot air airships are going to take part in the World Hot Air Airship Championship. The International Balloon Fiesta will unite more than 80 hot air balloons, both normal and special shapes.
Russia won the right to host the World Championship at the annual plenary meeting of the Federation Aeronautique International at Luxembourg in March, 2007. The Russian delegation, comprising the Federation of Aeronautical Sports of Russia in partnership with PROSTO Strategic Communications company, presented their bid and provided an overview of the advantages of Saint Petersburg in hosting the competition. The possibility of flying over one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and the professional organization and resources of the Russian organizers convinced the FAI Ballooning Commission (CIA) to approve the candidacy of Russia and award the right to stage the 8th World Hot Air Airship Championship.
The world tournament will take place in Russia for the first time.
To host the World Hot Air Airship Championship is both difficult and honourable mission. The hot air airship competitions have not taken place for already seven years, and Russia is awarded a privilege to revive this spectacular kind of sports, that nowadays is gaining popularity again.
World Hot Air Airship Championship is exciting and fascinating sports event.
During flights pilots do different tasks, which may require refueling stops and an excellent ground organization by the pilotsí crews. They competed in point to point races, declared time races, precision tasks races and of course slalom. The latter is a speed race on a slalom course of approximately 1 km with gates to be passed each 50 to 100 meters.
Pilots have to move their airship of a mass of about 4.5 tons around the poles in the shortest time. The organizers promise to please the audience with such an exotic task as a pylon race. The pylons will be installed on Neva River in the center of Saint Petersburg and airships will fly 3 or 5 time around a triangular course for maximum speed. “We plan to combine a race with a “Le Mans” start.
It means that pilots run by foot towards their airships and try to be the first in the air”, says 8th FAI World Hot Air Airship Championship Sports Director Pit Thibo (Luxembourg).
In June 21-28, 2007 in a pre-championship competition, Saint Petersburg hosted the MegaFon World Hot Air Airship Cup with International Balloon Fiesta “Rise Above the Clouds” which was held in the town of Pushkin (Tsarskoe Selo State Museum Complex). These events were held as a trial run for the World Championship and helped the Russian organizers to ensure that all of the necessary conditions for hosting a FAI Category One competition in 2008 are in place.
Russia has hosted such a large scale and spectacular events as MegaFon World Cup and International Balloon Fiesta for the first time. More than 40 crews from 18 countries participated in the flights.
The World Hot Air Airship Cup was contested by 4 teams from three countries: Germany, Poland and two teams from Russia.
The German team led by the pilot Jurgen Hutten won the trophy. Polish aeronaut Wojcech Bamberski took the second prize.
The Russian teams, headed by pilots Gennady Oparin and Lyudmila Ushakova, finished the competition in 3rd and 4th place respectively.
Thirty one hot air balloon crews took part in the International Balloon Fiesta “Rise Above the Clouds!” competitive races.
18 countries took part: Russia, Lithuania, Germany, Brazil, Poland, Spain, Norway, France, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, New Zealand, Austria, USA, Finland, Sweden, Slovakia, Belgium, Ukraine, and Netherlands. The winning team was from Lithuania and was led by Rimas Kostiuskevicius. Teams led by Josep Llado Costa (Spain) and Jolanta Turaite (Lithuania) came in second and third place.
The opening ceremony was attended by Albrecht Graf von Brandenstein-Zeppelin, the great-grandson and successor of the prominent airship constructor, and Jacques-Charles Antoine Besnard, twice world hot air airship champion.
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