Eeklo 2010 : Franklin versus Godzilla


Text & Pictures : Eddy Devroey - SBAP


It has become a long and yearly tradition in the region of East Flanders that is known as ‘Meetjesland’ to organize a big balloonmeeting in the city of Eeklo.

Once again the weather allowed for these two day to have a nice demonstration of more than 60 balloons taking off in the air.  Amongst them some rarely seen special shapes that give a surrealistic feeling watching them in the twilight of the evening.  Yours truly decided to visit the show on Sunday to take a look for a change at  a quiet and somewhat romantic form of aviation. 

For the people of Eeklo this event means a yearly feast with a complete program that starts in the morning when the ballons take off at early dawn.  During the day, the area around the field where the meeting is held, is turned into a typical Belgian fair with performances of famous national singers and ofcourse  the necessarry opportunities to strenghten the innerside with food and beer.

Then when finally the evening has arrived  and the wind lays down again the balloons go up in a nice display of shapes and colors.

Sunday before the preparations started for the ballons to be filled with hot air the people were treated with a short display of the  plane demo team The Victors.  This demonstration team started it’s activities in 2004 with homebase the aeroclub of Ursel.  The planes they fly in are Piper PA28-161 Cadet and Piper 28-161 Warrior III.  They gave a nice display to the public and showed the beauty of close formation flying.  They were present on other big airmeetings, military and civil, and about to become a big name as demo team.


The Victor's from Ursel airfield


After The Victors left it was time for the different balloonteams to spread out over the big sportfield and start the preparations to get airborne.  The weatherclearance was given and traditionally both on Saturday and Sundayevening a ballon fox hunt competition was held.  In this game one balloon takes of some 5 to 10 minutes before the rest. This balloon is called ‘the hare’ or the fox.  A bit later all other ballons take of and they represent ‘the hounds’ or hunters.

The hare has to land somewhere and put a big fabric X-shaped cross on the ground.  The hounds are chasing and have to throw their markers as close as possible to the center of the X.  The winner ofcourse is presented a price.

So one by one the balloons were filled with hot air and took off to fill the air above Eeklo with different bright colors and shapes.  Some specially formed ballons brightened the darkening eveningsky and especially the young children in the public looked in awe at this big giants floating gently by gaining more and more height as the big gastorches heated up the inside air of the balloon.
Amongst the special shapes were a T-rex
"Godzilla" from Canada, Mauriske the clown, Franklin the turtle, a monkey and a horse shaped balloon.  And so when they all left quietly the surrounding of the field and this fine day ended with the thought that also the world of ballooning is a very beautifull and enjoyable dicipline of aviation.


Preparation of the material
The first are taking off
Fire and wind to be able to fly...
franklin... ...and Godzilla Rabbit
Sponsorised by a Belgian TV broadcast horse shaped balloon
Monkey The ideal place to make some publicity  
At dusk !

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