International Balloon Festival  . Chateau- d’Oex  

From 21st to 29th January 2007  Château-d’Oex welcomed the 28th International Hot-air Balloon Festival. Thanks to its exceptional micro-climate, Château-d'Oex has become the world capital of hot-air ballooning in the Alps and  received more than 130 pilots from 20 different countries in the presence of the tens of thousands of visitors who witnessed also a few spectacular scenes in this cold winter . Once again this year numerous political, economic and aerostatic personalities  met above the Pays-d’Enhaut..  The opening ceremony had  brightly coloured balloons with special shapes and hot-air airships.Throughout the week, the public can take the opportunity to experience a balloon flight over the snow-cover and enjoy a 360 degree panorama.

Night Glow  2007

According to tradition, on Friday 26th January starting at 7pm a group of balloons  performed a nocturnal ballet in a particular  beautiful setting. Staged by Laurent Exchaquet, this colourful show was a harmonious dream stemming from the twists and turns of his passion for balloons and his inventiveness which have both motivated this jovial personality from his earliest days!. The show  mixed  the restrained mountain culture with singing, the furious rhythms of entrancing music, a colourful array of Chinese lanterns, the illuminated ballet of the men from the sky, extravagant fireworks and the magical scene outlined against the mountain .This evening show ended with a musical note and with fireworks. When the lights in the balloons having died down, the party continued throughout the village with street artists, stalls selling local specialities, champagne and other bars, bonfires and a variety of entertainment enough to keep you partying in Château-d'Oex, until late into the night.

Twinning Flight

On Sunday, 21 January 2007, as part of its 29th International Balloon Festival, Château-d'Oex organized, for the sixth consecutive year, the traditional flight in honour of the twinned towns of Bristol (UK), Sint-Niklass (Belgium), Romorantin (Loire, France) and Château-d'Oex (Switzerland )
Linked by a symbolic ribbon bearing the four national flags, the four twinned balloons  took off together and tried to keep their formation for as long as possible. The other balloons l flew behind them.
The ties of friendship established between the four towns have grown with time, resulting in a marked increase in both tourist and political exchanges that have been beneficial to these different European regions. The synergy developed through international meetings enables the organisers to consolidate quality flights and commercial  competitions .

Hang-glider drop from a hot air balloon

Pierre Hubert who is 35 years old , has been hang-gliding for 15 years. He is  a regular sight in the sky having fun amongst the clouds and birds. He launched himself from under a hot air balloon then as he flies giving acrobatic demonstrations , spiral dives, breathtaking curves, one realizes that “Flying Peter” is a bird, a performer.

Espace Balloon : Exhibition

Alpine aerostation centre , Espace Ballon gather under its roof all knowledge related to hot air ballooning.Closely situated to the take off of hot air balloon, Espace Ballon shelters also the capsule of the first around the world attempt of Breitling Orbiter by Betrand Piccard and Brian Jones . The permanent exhibition presents the balloon adventure under all its glory from its history to the technical aspect, while passing by its more beautiful moments and its most staggering records, the visitors will discover the surprising and poetic world of hot air ballooning. In 1999 it was from here that Betrand Piccard a Swiss and Brian Jones (English )  made their  historic  non stop  trip around the world in Breitling Orbiter 3  balloon within 19 das, 9 hours and 4 minutes.

Geraldine and the ‘wingsuit”.  

Geraldine Fasnacht , a young woman of 26  from Lausanne, was here during the two weekends of the festival who made spectacular wing suit demonstrations. Wearing her special webbed jumpsuit, in which she looked like an extra-terrestrial bird, who made parachute jumps from a hot air balloon.  She is well-known as an expert snowboard free rider on snow .
A country and its people

The Pays-d’Enhaut welcomed the visitors to its gently rolling coutryside , slipped between Beautiful and rugged terrain and the solid foothills of the nearby alpine summits;a landscape fashioned by a one thousand –year old farming community . Guided by their History and traditions, today’s inhabitants have found harmony in a land given over to raising cattle and natural environment of such beauty that wherever one looks, the view is enchanting . It is a place to enjoyed for the soothing tranquillity of its landscapes and the passionate and generous nature of its people.


The first clearly recorded instances of balloons capable of carrying passengers used hot air to obtain buoyancy and were built by the brothers Josef and Etienne Montgolfier in Annonay, France. They were from a family of paper manufacturers who had noticed the ash rising in fires. After experimenting with unmanned balloons and flights with animals, the first balloon flight with humans on board took place on 21 November 1783. King Louis XVI had originally decreed that condemned criminals would be the first pilots, but a young physicist named Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis Francois d'Arlandes successfully petitioned for the honor. The first hot air balloons were basically cloth bags ,sometimes lined with paper with a smoky fire built on a grill attached to the bottom. They had a tendency to catch fire and be destroyed upon landing.The first military use of aircraft took place  during the French Revolutionary Wars, when the French used a tethered Hydrogen balloon to observe the movements of the Austrian army during the Battle of Fleurus in( 1794) .Hot air balloons were employed during the American Civil War

Flight techniques

Most hot air balloon launches are made during the cooler hours of the day, at dawn or two to three hours before sunset. At these times of day, the winds are typically light making for easier launch and landing of the balloon. A hot air balloon flight starts with unpacking the balloon from its carrying bag. A gasoline-powered fan is used to blow cold (outside) air into the envelope. The cold air partially inflates the balloon to establish its basic shape before the burner flame is aimed into the mouth heating the air inside. A crew member stationed opposite the mouth, holds a rope (crown line) tied to the apex (crown) of the envelope. The "crown-man" role is two fold, one is to prevent the envelope from excessive sway and two is to prevent the balloon rising until it is sufficiently buoyant. Once the balloon is upright, pilot and passengers climb into the basket. When the pilot is ready for launch, more heat is directed into the envelope and the balloon lifts off.

Ps: chateau means castle   and Chateau d’Oex is pronounced as  Chateau Dey.

To see more photos ,click below

 View Intl Balloon Festival Chateau


Text: Augustine Paranikulangara  Switzerland   -    Email-


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