Competitions

Find out what the Festival's competitions are all about and what crews need to achieve to reach the top of the leaderboard.

Coupe de compétition

The festival’s programme includes a number of competitions every year. Each pilot's skill, precision and knowledge of aviation are tested to the limits as they try to land on predefined targets, among other objectives. 

The goal is either to land or to drop a marker as close to a target as possible, sometimes they may even have to pick up items using a pole. These are difficult exercises which the pilot will tackle with the help of the crew. The pilots must calculate the time and speeds required and, above all, use the wind to their advantage. The crew on the ground will estimate wind strength to help them steer. The pilot must demonstrate knowledge and patience in judging whether it is better to take the descending wind in the morning or to wait as the wind changes direction during the day.

The friendship flight

Joined together by a symbolic ribbon bearing their national flags, four hot air balloons take off together and fly in formation for as long as possible. The other hot air balloons taking part then follow the group.

Sponsored targets

Permanent sponsored targets are also placed around the Château-d’Œx take-off site. The crews then have to throw markers (small cloth bags filled with sand) into the triangular targets.

The long distance race

During the first year of the festival in 1979, David Niven, the famous British actor of «Around the World in 80 Days», donated a trophy for the long-distance flight competition. The goal of the race is to cover the greatest distance possible without stopping! The Organizing Committee chooses a day (from Monday to Thursday) on which the competitors participating in the race will take off. The public can follow the race live using the beacons carried by the pilots. Pilots can also take part in the race in the Eco category, competing for the «Piccard-Jones Eco Trophy».

Precision target drops

Pilots taking part in this competition will require perseverance and dexterity. The precision target is placed on Temple Hill and the pilots have to throw a ring over it during the course of the festival.

Speed race

The crews take off either at the same time or in successive waves, depending on the number of participants. The pilots must then cross a fictitious line which is announced during the morning briefing, it’s distance from the take-off field will depend on the weather forecast. A maximum altitude above ground at the finish line may be specified beforehand. The width of the finish line is also specified. The pilot who crosses the line in the shortest time is declared the winner.

The Nello Charbonnier trophy

A new trophy was created this year to honour the memory of our friend Nello Charbonnier, a great friend of the Festival and a distinguished competitor. The winner will be the pilot who participates in the largest number of competitions during the Festival.

Les deux Gruyères

This competition involves flying from Château-d'Oex to the city of Gruyères, passing over the Sarine. The crews must fly over two different targets. The first is located in the courtyard of the Château de Gruyères. This is a precision target onto which the crews must throw a marker. The second target is a «marker drop» located in a field to the north-east of the Château. The crews must therefore try to reach the courtyard of the Château de Gruyères without losing sight of the second target.

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