International ballooning event returns to Portugal

Recently, the Alter do Chão balloon festival returned for its eighteenth year.

In total, 52 balloons took part in the Portuguese festival, with pilots travelling from several different countries, including Spain, Britain, France, and the Netherlands.

Launches took place throughout each day between the 9th and 16th of November, although the morning hot air balloon flights from the 10th until the 15th took up members of the public for free.

In the afternoon, the flights were for sponsors and competitions. Some balloons stayed until the 16th of November, but launches on that day were for sponsors only. On the 14th, passenger flights were open to the local population only.

On average, each balloon flight lasted for an hour. Most morning launches took place at 6.45 AM local time, with the afternoon flights taking off at 2.45 PM.

During the eight days, various competitions were held. These contests provided a chance for pilots to hone their skills, and test out any new balloons or equipment they had brought with them.

The event organiser, Hannibal Soares, told AFP:

“Here we have 52 pilots from 12 different nationalities for 8 days of competition, that’s why we can consider this festival one of the best, at least one of the top five festivals in Europe.”

Pilots are said to enjoy flying in the area. One of them commented that the area around Alter do Chão is great for ballooning, with it also being perfect for aspiring pilots to learn here due to so many good landing zones.

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