Chinese uses balloon competition to select its national team

The six top competitors in this year’s Wuhan ballooning contest will go on to form China’s first national hot air ballooning team.

They will represent China at future national events, as well as enter the World Hot Air Balloon Championship in 2015. It is also planned for them to compete at the American World Hot Air Balloon Open and the World Challenge Balloon Championship.

Before 1985, hot air balloon flights were rare in China. Very few people owned a balloon and it was hard to get permission to fly them.

Up until 2009/10, the military controlled all air space at all times, so flying was not easy. Today, there are fewer restrictions and hot air balloon rides and flights are becoming more commonplace in China.

The four-day competition was held from the 14th to 17th October and 60 teams were taking part, which is twice the number that competed last year.

Hot air balloon coach Li Yonghun said:

“Mulan grassland is the ideal spot for the event for two reasons. First is the suitable weather condition. The hot air balloon is pushed by the wind. Mulan grassland in Hubei is close to the Dabie mountain area where the wind blows steadily. This is good for the hot air balloon.”

Twenty-six different competitive games were planned across the four days, and in total 200 people were scheduled to take part in the games. The location is said to be perfect for ballooning, as alongside of plenty of flat space on which to land, there are nearby mountains and lakes to enjoy.

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