Another challenge for record breaking balloonist

Another challenge for record breaking balloonist

She broke the female duration world record for ballooning during last year’s race and this Saturday Janet Folkes, an engineer from The University of Nottingham, will put her skills to the test again in this year’s Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett race — in the world’s oldest and most prestigious aeronautical race.

Once again Janet will be flying with her co-pilot Dr Anne Webb from The University of Manchester. The pair will be flying in the same gas balloon that took them into the record books last year during their 1105km flight. This year they are hoping to take the distance and duration record.

Janet, a scientist in the Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering, who flies the University’s hot air balloon, said: “I am really excited about taking off from Bristol for this amazing race as it has never been held in the UK before. My dad who is 84 will come and watch the launch, as well as many friends from the East Midlands. I hope the weather co-operates and the air traffic is not too bad. I am a bit worried about the cold and damp at night as recently we’ve been having some cold nights. Last year we headed for Spain so this year let’s hope it’s also towards the warmer climes of Spain or Turkey and we can break both a distance and duration record!

Over 20 teams from 12 different countries will be at the start for the 54th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon in Bristol this Saturday — the team that flies the furthest will win.

The international balloon competition was initiated by adventurer and newspaper tycoon Gordon Bennett in 1906. Often compared with the America’s Cup for sailing this duration race is described as the most prestigious event in aviation and the ultimate challenge for the balloon pilots and equipment.

After 20 years of flying Janet Folkes holds a distinguished track record for ballooning in hot air balloons and gas balloons. She has established 50 world records, most of which still stand today. She has competed in several Gordon Bennett and American Challenge gas balloon races winning the 10th America’s Challenge gas balloon race in 2005 with her American co-pilot Bill Arras. They flew nearly 1,500 miles from New Mexico to Canada in 46 hours and 14 minutes giving her the British General distance and duration records by a large margin. Last year she broke the previous female duration world record of 60 hours and 12 minutes — a record which had stood since 1995 — by flying for 69 hours and 19 minutes.

Live tracking of the race online can be found at

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More information is available from Dr Janet Folkes on +44 (0)115 951 4051 or +44 (0)7802 367 702, janet.folkes [a] (p) uk

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

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