After 10 years of work and a test run in March, a world first took place on Sunday, April 29, at Place du Palais when an environmentally-friendly balloon took to the skies before flying to Piedmont, Italy.
After two hours of preparation, the Monaco Aeronauts balloon took off at 7:30 am, in the presence of Prince Albert. The flight took place in very good weather conditions and concluded, three hours later, with a landing near the Italian municipality of Saluces, Piedmont.
The two pilots, environmental enthusiasts Alain Cruteanschii and Guy Bouckaert, spoke of the privilege and the great honour of being able to see their project become reality. The balloon, equipped like a Boeing 747 – with a transponder allowing them to be spotted by control towers and aircraft – flew at a height of 5,700 metres. With an estimated temperature of -30°C, the pilots needed a constant supply of oxygen.
The venture is part of the “Next Generation Project” by Monaco’s Aeronauts and aims to pioneer a reduction in the the propane consumption of hot air balloon burners. The balloon has a double jacket that reduces energy loss, avoiding the escape of hot air to the outside. “Jeeper”, the model used, consumes only 20 kg per hour of propane instead of the usual 60.