GENEVA, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- The airspace around the Swiss capital Bern is for some days clogged with hot air balloons from different countries taking part in the Gas Balloon World Cup.
The 62nd edition of the Gordon Bennett 112-year-old hot air balloon competition began Friday and ends on Oct. 6 after taking place in the airspace of Bern for the first time, the organizers said.
The race also forms part of an aviation festival in Bern that ends on Sunday.
The balloons took off first on Friday morning with 21 of the world's best pilots from 12 nations participating, including Australia, Germany, Japan, Poland, Russia and the United States, the organizers said.
This hot air balloon event describes itself as "the oldest and most prestigious aviation competition in the world" as the FAI (World Air Sports Federation) World Long Distance Gas Balloon Championship.
Bernhard Mueller, the commander of the Swiss Air Force said on the event website, "The Gordon Bennett is more than just a gas balloon rid. Anyone who participates in Gordon Bennett is a 21st-century adventurer and fully lives the dream of aviation."
In 2017, the winners from France covered 1,834 kilometers in three days, the mass-circulation Swiss German-language daily newspaper Blick reported.
The first edition took place in Paris in 1906, in front of 200,000 spectators gathered in the Tuileries gardens.
Switzerland has done well in the history of race winning as early as 1908, after 73 hours of flying - a record that lasted until 1995.
The Swiss have also won in Brussels in 1921 and in Zurich in 1984.
The initiator of this competition was American newspaper publisher and sports enthusiast James Gordon Bennett Junior who lived from 1841-1918 and donated to numerous competitions, including polo and sailing.
There is no time limit, but the race operates on a simple principle.
Each team starts from the same point with the same quantity of gas, lifting off to the sound of its national anthem, and the one that flies the longest distance (generally after three or four days non-stop flying) wins the race.
In the Gordon Bennett Cup of today, the position, altitude, and speed of each balloon can be checked online in real time, said the organizers.