Château d'Oex : Ballons in the mountains


Text & Pictures : Guy Liesse - SBAP


The Swiss balloon festival was held like every year at Château D'Oex in canton of Vaud.

This year was the 33rd edition of this prestigious gathering that concentrates balloonists from all parts of Europe, including Belgian participant.

The fabulous mountains of Switzerland are ideal to enhance the spectacle of colorful hot air balloons.

The development of this event saw in parallel to the hot air balloons, other flying machines presented to the numerous public during this festival week.

Miniature hot air balloons, para-motors, parachute jumps from balloons, airship or solar balloons. This week was also an opportunity for balloonists to take part into different competitions, with fun and always with the pleasure of flight as headline.



The various competitions


Long distance race David Niven :

The aim of this long distance hare and hounds is to train the pilots for the other competitions.

The competitors takes-off five minutes after the hare and have to follow it, trying to touch down as closely as possible of the hare.

This medium altitude group flight is set under the supervision of an air traffic controller to ensure the security with the other traffic in the region


High precision Parmigiani target (race to a watch) :

The target is positionned on the launch site. This is an upright pole where a gift box is hanging. The goal of the pilot is to grab them. For this competition to be carried out in complete safety, the pilot is allowed to use a special pole. The content of the gift box is a prestigeous watch offered by the main sponsor.


The two Gruyères :

This competition is a flight from Châteu d'Oex to the village of Gruyère (yes from where the cheese are coming from...). The first target is a marker in the courtyard of the castle and the second is a "basket touchdown" on a target positionned in a field north-east of the castle.


Don Quichote race :

Each team is equipped with a spear (broom handle with a sharp nail to the end). The spear is attached to the basket by a rope. The pilot have to burst ten helium filled ballons with the spear.


Minimum distance double drop :

The competitor have to drop two markers as close as possible to the center of a circular scoring area from around the 50 metres of diameter.


Race to a line :

The  competitor lift off from Château d'Oex site and try to reach a specific line in the best time.


Hare and Hounds :

The traditional hot air ballon competition consist to follow the hare and drop a marker as short as possible of the hare landing position.


Fly back :

The participants takes-off from Château d'Oex site, have to drop markers at a position predefined by the judges and given during the briefing. After the drop, they have to fly back to the launch site of Château d'Oex.


Sponsor declared targets :

The sponsor give different targets around the launch site. The aim is either to drop markers or touchdown within the target areas.


Saanen - Château d'Oex friendship flight :

The bollonist take-off from the village of Saanen airfield and have to flight down along the valley to come back at Château d'Oex where a target is placed in middle of the launch site.



Ventilators to blast the hot air into the ballon Basket transportation
Start of inflation Hot hot hot !
Magic landscape Château d'Oex launch site
Colorfull ballon The mountains as background Some ballons are real artist works
French duck French cartoon and French rooster...cocorocco !
Unusual hot air airship Race is launched
From all part of Europe
The incredible spectacle of models hot air ballons...amazing !
At take off A mix of different flying machines during this week The well know Breitling Orbiter 3 from Betrand Piccard
Snow, sun and ballons...wonderfull light From Great Britain in the mountains
A festival of... ...colours Assimo robot
A Swiss ballon in his usual landscape From Belgium A last view on the site of château d'Oex

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