Dr. Angela Merkel
Chancellor Federal Republic of Germany

Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel

In 1906 the American newspaper editor James Gordon Bennett established the gas balloon race that came to be named after him. The conquest of the skies and magnificent views from a bird’s eye perspective, the thrill of adventure and the excitement of competition – the fascination of the traditional air race remains unbroken even 110 years on. The Gordon Bennett Cup has the honour of being not only the oldest but also the most challenging international ballooning event in existence. This year, 23 teams from 12 nations will rise to the challenge of using knowledge, experience and skill to win the title. They will take off from the town of Gladbeck. As to where they will end up – the answer is blowing in the wind.

I am very pleased that Germany is hosting the 60th Gordon Bennett Cup. I am therefore delighted to be the patron of the Cup in this anniversary year. I would like to greet all participants – the pilots and co pilots as well as the helpful balloon fans who work on the ground to ensure that this world championship is a success. And last but not least, I would like to welcome all those who simply take delight in witnessing an impressive display. All that remains is for us to hope that the weather will also be in winning mood. Happy landings!

Dr. Angela Merkel
Chancellor Federal Republic of Germany

President Fédération Aéronautique Internationale

Dr. John Grubbstroem

The FAI - The World Air Sports Federation - is delighted that Gladbeck is hosting the 60th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett – the FAI Long Distance Gas Balloon World Championship.

Within all the air sports competitions, the Coupe holds a special place for being the very oldest. Since its first edition in 1906 in Paris, it has enjoyed an uncontested success in good part due to the simplicity of its format: the balloon that flies the furthest from the take-off site wins.  This year the individual stories of the pilots full of adventure, skill, courage and luck will continue in Gladbeck (GER) from 15 – 24 September 2016.

The Championship begins once the majestic gas balloons have taken off into the moonlit night to the cheers of the public. From then on the two-person crew, just like sailors on the ocean, rely on their instruments and their support teams on the ground to calculate the best routes and catch the most favourable wind streams. Even though GPS is now complementing terrestrial navigation, ultimately the victory is still down to the pilots’ intuition, skills and experience.

The winning strategies, the mistakes, the head to head finale, all this can be followed on the competition website thanks to live tracking and commented in the social media. A great way to engage the air sport community and bring more people to this exciting sport.

The location of the competition changes with the winners nationalities: In 2014 Wilhelm Eimers and Matthias Zenge from Germany won the 58th edition when it was hosted in Vichy (FRA). This means they brought the competition to Gladbeck, Germany, the epicentre of global gas ballooning activities which will therefore provide for sure perfect conditions. The 59th edition of the Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett in 2015 was won by the Swiss pilots Kurt Frieden and Pascal Witprächtiger, which brings the 61th edition to Switzerland in 2017.

Thank you to the Local Organising Committe “Deutscher Aeroclub LV Nordrhein Westfalen e.V.”, partners and authorities in Gladbeck for all the hard work they have done to host this competition.

My best wishes for safe and competitive flights that I am sure will keep us glued to our computers to follow the Race online. 

Dr. John Grubbstroem
Président de la Fédération Aéronautique Internationale

President FAI Ballooning Commission

On behalf of the Ballooning Commission of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the World Air Sports Féderation, we welcome all the participating teams and officials. The Gordon Bennett is the World’s oldest aviation race and the flagship event of the FAI. Pilots along with their crew have come from all around the world to participate in one of the World’s most extreme and challenging sports.

There could not be a better place to host a Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett than the City of Gladbeck, Germany. This launchfield and the super facilities are the brain child of Wilhelm Eimers, a long-time Gordon Bennett participant himself, and it took many years to turn his dream into a reality. We are fortunate to have the entire Eimers family, the local balloon club and many friends organizing this event.

There is nothing more spectacular than watching a Gordon Bennett launch as the sun goes down and the skies darken. There is great pride in the spectators and teams as their National Anthem is played as the balloons slowly rise into the moonlit air. For fans all around the world who will watch this amazing event on the internet, you will not be disappointed as teams use different strategies to out fly the other competitors. Some of them may be aloft for more than three days trying to gain as much distance as possible. The winner of this event is the team who flies the greatest distance!

Fly far and be safe

Mark Sullivan
President FAI Ballooning Commission

Mayor of the City of Gladbeck

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
dear Balloon Pilots,

I would like to welcome you to the 60th Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett here in Gladbeck. It is something very special to host this World Championship of Gas Ballooning in our city. Competitors from all over the world will launch with their balloons to battle for the crown.

It makes us especially proud that the team of the title holder has its club based here in Gladbeck.

Since founding this launch site in our beautiful recreation area of Wittringen, time and again gas and hot air balloons have launched and landed on this spot, delivering spectacular images and delight to both young and old, who have come from near and far to enjoy ballooning. A world championship on our home soil with its international flair, a full social calendar and our Wittringer forest as a backdrop represents an unprecedented experience to our visitors.

I would like to thank the organizers of the Niederrheinischen Vereins für Luftschifffahrt 1902 e.V. and all the volunteers for their great efforts. In recent months a huge amount of commitment was put into the realization of this event. It was a great pleasure for us to support the club in their endeavor.

To all the teams, I wish you a wonderful time in Gladbeck, fine weather and an exciting and fair competition. Blue skies!

Yours sincerely

Ulrich Roland
Mayor of the City of Gladbeck

Wolfgang MÜTHER
President of the Deutscher Aero Club e.V.

Dear Pilots,
Dear Friends,

The joy was enormous when Wilhelm Eimers and Matthias Zenge received the Award in 2014.

Not only because our German top team has won the most important gas balloon race but also that Germany was set to be the organizer of the 60th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett 2016. It is an honor for us to host the world’s best gas balloon pilots.

As organizers of this race, the DAeC-Landesverband Nordrhein-Westfalen, in cooperation with the Niederrheinischen Verein für Luftschifffahrt 1902 e. V., has done an amazing job. With great commitment, they have rendered outstanding services organizing this competition. A sincere thank you to all involved parties who worked tirelessly to ensure a smoothly flowing event.

The DAeC would like to wish all the pilots and their teams, the organizers and the guest an exciting and successful event.


Wolfgang Müther
President of the Deutscher Aero Club e.V.

Präsidentin Deutscher Freiballonsport-Verband

Welcome to Germany

Dear friends of air sports and gas ballooning,
a very warm welcome!

In the name of the German Balloon Federation, the Deutscher Freiballonsport-Verband e.V. and the Ballooning Commission of the German National Aero Club, the Bundeskommission im Deutschen Aero Club (DAeC), we welcome all competitors and their teams, officials, friends of air Sports and guests to the 60th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett, the FAI World Long Distance Gas Balloon Championship. Welcome to one of the world’s most famous gas balloon launch fields in the City of Gladbeck, State of North Rhine-Westfalia, a very suitable location and clearly the number one takeoff site worldwide.

A heartfelt thank you goes to the World Air Sports Federation, the Fédération Aéronautiqe Internationale with its FAI Ballooning Commission, to the organizer on site as well as to the German Aero Club Nordrhein-Westfalen in collaboration with the Niederrheinischen Verein für Luftschifffahrt 1902 e.V.

Very special thanks are given to Sebastian Eimers, the head of the Local Organizing Committee who, with his and his team’s ambition and dedication, has prepared this prestigious race very well. We gratefully acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of the sponsors, supporters and the many volunteers and helping hands in creating this unique competition.

Air sports is team work as it calls for a community to share the passion and finally to guarantee perfect conditions to conduct this very special, international and exciting competition. I am pleased to extend my very best wishes to all officials, guided by the event director Stefan Handl and his team.

It is the tradition, the unique mixture of pilot skills and modern technology which appeal to the spectators and the media. The 24 pilots from 12 nations supported by their teams are in the limelight and will inspire us all.

We are looking forward to this year’s Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett with great joy, wishing the pilots a fair, thrilling and safe competition, some luck and finally soft landings. With enthusiasm we will follow your journeys by watching the live-tracking on the internet. Our minds are with the teams when they conquer the air and we know that they will enjoy the beautiful landscapes, even though they are competing.

Dear pilots, friendship and airmanship will guide you and with utmost pleasure we shall dream with you when you float in the European skies above us, but still fighting to be the best!

Blue skies and happy landings to all!

Sincerely yours

Marita Krafcyk
President of the German Balloon Federation
Event Manager of the 60th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett

Stefan KLETT
President Aeroclub NRW e.V.
Vice President Landessportbund NRW e.V.

»Welcome to the Airsports Family of North Rhine Westphalia«

I had two thoughts when the news reached me that the team of Eimers/Zenge had won, after 14 years of waiting, the Gordon Bennett Race:

First, I felt incredible pride for this sporting achievement and second, I had the thought that I might possibly be the organizer of this great event in 2016. I deliberately say possibly…

During the 110 year history, we have had five German winning teams and all of them have been members of the Aeroclub NRW; most of these teams were led by Wilhelm Eimers, also known as »Mr. Gasballoon«. Because of this, we, in NRW, would feel honored to organize the 2016 race. The first step was, to win the »organizer-battle« against a strong Bavarian competitor. The responsible persons of the DAeC and the FAI voted in favor of the NRW launch field in Gladbeck, which is recognized worldwide as being the site of 40 % of all gas balloon launches. Since its inception more than 1,300 gas balloons have launched from here for training and fun flights, which makes Gladbeck an epicenter of gas ballooning.

So it is no surprise that this year’s race will have a record number of participants 24 competitors from 12 nations and our Federal Chancellor will serve as patron. More national and international recognition would not be possible.

The organizers faced a huge financial challenge in finding sponsors, since the costs were expected to be around 120,000 EUR, and no single sponsor was able to cover all expenses as Warsteiner had done for gas ballooning in Germany in the nineties. So it was necessary to start a massive campaign for funding.

Step by step we were able to find big and small sponsors and by working together, this feat was accomplished. The slogan »We are Gordon Bennett!« brought together all NRW Airsports and we worked together to make the financial planning happen in the Aeroclub NRW.

This shows that the NRW airsport athletes stand together and that they warmly welcome all the competitors of the 2016 Gordon Bennett Race. And I am sure this warm welcome will also be shared by the NRW citizens.

With this in mind, and I also speak on the behalf of the complete board of directors, a huge thank you to the organizers, volunteers and sponsors and we wish successful and safe flights.

Welcome to the Airsports Family of North Rhine Westphalia.

Yours sincerely

Stefan Klett
President Aeroclub NRW e.V.
Vice President Landessportbund NRW e.V.

Stefan HANDL
Event Direktor 60th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett

Dear Teams, Officials, Guests and Sponsors,

this year’s race will be a race with a lot of characteristics. On one hand we have a jubilee with the 60th race to celebrate, on the other hand this year’s race will have more competitors as never before which are flying over Europe to catch a medal. Also the launch field in Gladbeck is a superlative. It is one of the best launch fields in the world, maybe the best of the world for gas ballooning.

The organisers on site did their very best, to make this race from that side a superlative as well. It would be impossible without all people who are working in the background to run this race and make it successful it and I can only say thank you for your commitment. In the organiser’s boat are this year the DFS (German Flight Service) and the DWD (German Weather Service) and they support us with their best expertise knowledge on site.

Of course, without sponsors an event like that cannot happen. This year we have bigger and smaller sponsors for the world championship and this support in financial, material or personnel way, I will let not unmentioned, thank you very much.

At last I can only wish the teams a fair, safe and breath-taking competition. I am honoured to head the competition and I wish all teams a safe trip, in the air and on ground.

Always blue skies

Stefan Handl
Event Director
Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett 2016
FAI World Long Distance Gas Balloon Championship