The world’s oldest air race has taken off from Britain for the first time as adventurer David Hempleman-Adams attempts to regain his crown.
A total of 20 balloons flew from a field near Bristol on Saturday all hoping to win the 54th Gordon Bennett Cup.
The historic trophy is awarded to the team which flies the furthest using just one ”fill” of hydrogen in its balloon.
The race has been hosted in Britain for the first time this year after adventurer David Hempleman-Adams, 55, was victorious in 2008.
Ahead of this year’s race the explorer said: ”When you are up there it’s like playing some giant 3D chess game in the sky.
”There’s a tremendous amount of calculation to do. Everything depends on finding the best wind current. Tiny errors can be disastrous.”
Jo Bailey, spokeswoman for the race, yesterday added: ”There was a very windy take off and David was the last person to launch – to the national anthem.
”All the balloons are heading South at the moment and some of the forerunners have reached France but at the moment it’s very close.
”The race will get interesting as they begin to spread out more.”
Teams control their gas balloons by releasing gas to go down and throwing out one of their 50 sandbags to go up.
Competitors take off from a specified site and the cup is awarded to the team which flies the furthest.