Hundreds gather in the Swiss Alps for hot air balloon spectacle

Dozens of hot air balloons launched at the start of the Chateau d’Oex 38th International Festival of hot air balloons.

CHATEAU D’OEX, SWITZERLAND (JANUARY 23) (REUTERS) – Hundreds of people gathered in the small Swiss city of Chateau d’Oex for the start of its 38th International Festival of hot air balloons, which saw dozens of hot air balloons being launched into the clear blue sky on Saturday (January 23).

Before they took off for a much awaited aerial ballet, pilots and crews from 15 different countries had to prepare the fragile giants.

The balloons are stretched out and filled with gas an warm air to allow the balloon to plump up and take off, the most delicate phase, according to pilot Marc Kegels.

A pilot from Belgium, he has championed hot air ballooning for more than 20 years, attending the festival for 17.

“So, you start on a place and you don’t know where you land. That’s fantastic. You cannot steer a balloon. You can just go high and low, but you cannot say I will go to the right, or the left, so you start on this place, and I don’t know anything where, which place I will land, so that’s adventure. And also the view when you the 3000 meters, you view the bouquet of Alps, you see it’s… ah, wonderful,” he told Reuters TV.

“The multitude of hot air balloons. It’s quite magical to see as many hot air balloons, reunited in just one event, a symphony of colours, a magnificent sun, a grandiose scenery, and really a unique spectacle which wakes up our child soul, calling for it to look up to the sky,” enthused visiting Frenchman Vincent Metaillier told Reuters TV, as he watched the spectacle.

The festival lasts until January 31st.