Hot air balloons take off for German championship

Hot air balloon pilots from around the world are in Frankenthal, in the Pfalz over the long weekend, competing for the German Hot Air Balloon Piloting Championships.

Hot air balloons take off for German championship
Mellow start to the race. Photo:DPA

There are various disciplines, including many accuracy challenges, which involve dropping a marker in a particular spot, with the one nearest the centre picking up most points.

There is also a ‘chase’, in which a ‘fox’ balloon must be followed, no mean feat when piloting balloons on which there is no discernable steering mechanism.

Although modern pilots use global positioning systems and other high-tech devices to help navigate, they are still at the mercy of the wind and sunshine, which can quickly ruin the most carefully-planned trip.

At least two trips must be undertaken by each of the 30 or so pilots to qualify, with teams competing from across Germany as well as from England, Lithuania and Denmark.

The best German competitor will get a place on the national team.