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Hot air balloons break the world record for simultaneous takeoff

A ballooning world record was smashed last month, at the Lorraine Mondial Balloon festival in Eastern France. A whopping 433 hot air balloons took off simultaneously at the festival on July 25. They beat the previous world record, set at the same event in 2013, when 391 balloons cast off in unison. The variety of balloons taking part in this year’s record attempt added to the sense of occasion. They came in many shapes, colours and sizes. Some balloons were in the shape of French chateaus, others depicted French cartoon characters like Obelix, and some were shaped like thin wine bottles. Pilots from around 40 countries took part in front of hundreds of spectators. In order to achieve the most satisfactory takeoff, the balloons were spaced out in a number of parallel lines, with each line extending to around 6km. The main risk was one of collision between one or more hot air balloons during the event, which could have led to torn fabric. However, all went smoothly, helped by favourable weather conditions. Phillippe Buron Patreau, the festival organiser, told journalists:
"A new page in ballooning history has been written."
The festival, held once every two years, attracts some 500,000 visitors, and takes place at the site of a former American Airbase, constructed in the late 1950s. While the airbase has long been retired, the cluster of extant parallel runways proved ideal for organising the smooth launch of the record-breaking flights.
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