The Aeronauts of Monaco have won the Concept Balloon Challenge, a hot air balloon race whose objective is to travel the greatest distance using the least amount energy possible.
The race was organized to learn about ecological hot-air balloons. The objective of the first aeronautical ecological race in the world is to go the distance while consuming the least amount of energy.
The Aeronauts of Monaco decided to participate in conquering the sky and bringing their ideas to life. They found themselves in a moving eco-balloon, allowing them to fly 3 times longer than a traditional hot-air balloon. This enthusiastic team wanted an environmentally friendly experience and a real competition.
“It’s a sport which is physical, because you have to prepare the balloon, you have to compact it. It’s also a strategic sport, because nature will give us certain conditions, different winds, different altitudes and we have to adapt and work with it,” said Alain Crusteanschii, Aeronaut.
The Aeronauts of Monaco took off from Neuchâtel, Switzerland and quickly elevated to 6,000 meters, which is an altitude that has the most wind. Once there, they travelled at 70 kilometers per hour.
“We flew as a team of 3 pilots, each with specific roles: communication, steering, oxygen, transmission, movement of other competitors, things like that. We had to pay close attention to each other. Flying a hot air balloon is something that is very fraternal,” said Alain Crusteanschii.
This new generation of hot-air balloons use air in new ways. They are made up of an aluminum exterior layer and a second interior layer. What’s very important is that in between each layer, there is 1 millimeter of air. The air space between the layers insures good insulation and limits the transmission of convection. The metallic aspect of the layers permits the limitation of thermic radiation. Traditional hot air balloons consume 60 litres of propane per hour, the eco-balloons consume 3-4 times less fossil fuel.
The Concept Balloon Challenge is the most demanding long-distance hot-air balloon course ever imagined. In the air, the Monegasque Aeronauts travelled 416 kilometers after 9 hours of flight and won the first Concept Balloon Challenge.
“By participating in this first challenge, we wanted to prove is that it’s possible to continue this activity with repercussions 75% lower in terms of energy consumption than a classic hot air balloon. We applied a simple principle: thermal isolation, similar to, for example, double-glazed windows in your home. So we created a double layered hot air balloon, the interior of the balloon is 100 degrees, the exterior is usually 0 degrees, or an even colder temperature and we have 1 millimeter of air which transforms our hot-air balloon into something similar to a thermos, for example.”
The 2nd edition of this environmentally friendly race may take place in Monaco. A dream for the Monegasques Aeronauts, who would love to take off in Monaco onboard a balloon in the Principality’s colors.