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The Company

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Home The Company

 

In 2010, Compagnie des Ballons opened a new base in Annecy, Haute Savoie, France. The firm consists of a team of professional pilots who have accumulated many years of mountain flight experience. Compagnie des Ballons complies with current law and possess a flight transport licence under flight transport certificate n° F-CE 916.

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Through their expert knowledge of aerological atmosphere the hot-air balloon practise has reached the highest level and through this you will discover incredible flights over Aravis and Bauges mountains, as well as down below close to the splendid Lake Annecy .

Safety, customer satisfaction and respect for the law are our top priorities and we regularly maintain our Ultra Magic hot-air balloon, one of the best brands in the world, accordingly.
We have several departure points to help you experience the most interesting and beautiful flights possible.

Compagnie des Ballons offers you the opportunity to discover the Alps and Lake Annecy from the best view imaginable.

  • If you are a hot-air ballon pilot with  mountain flying experience and you want to join an active and professional team, please contacts : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

  • If you are working as a professional mountain services provider (paragliding pilot, skiing instructor, mountain guide..) and you want to become a licenced hot-air balloon pilot, please contact : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

  • If you know Annecy and its surrounding region,  like hang-gliding and have an E driving licence you , too, could become a team member. Again, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more details

Hot-Air Balloons

 

On the 4th of June, 1783, brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier succeeded in the first public aerostatic experience. The first balloon flight, which was passengerless, reached 1000 meters altitude, and took place in Place Des Cordeliers, Annonay, France.


On the 19th of September in the same year,, Jacques Etienne successfully flew a hot-air balloon again, this time in front King Louis XVI in the  Palace of Versailles Courtyard. The first 'passengers' were a sheep, a cockeral and a duck. They reached 480 meters altitude.


Two months later, on the 21st of November, the first human passenger hot-air balloon flight took place in Paris. Jacques Etienne built a 2040m3 hot-air balloon covered in silk, 20 meters in height and 16 meters in diameter. It had a round wicker 'gallery' basket, in which entered the physician Jean François Pilatre de Rozier and François Laurent, The Marquis Of Arlande. This first flight took them from the Muette Gardens to the Butte aux Cailles,lasting 20 minutes and covering approximately 10 kilometres. The 2 men flew maintaining the air temperature with a fire made of straw!

 

Gas Balloons

 

Two weeks later, on the 1st of December, the first gas balloon landed from the Tuileries,  Paris, carrying the physicians Jacques Charles and Nicolas Robert. The 800 m3 balloon, filled with hydrogen, flew more than 36 kilometres over 2 hours.

In 1784, the 19th of January, the Flesselles, the biggest hot-air balloon ever built at 42 meters in height with  a 24-meter diameter totalling 27 000 m3, took 6 passengers; one of whom was Joseph de Montgolfier.

The first time they did a sea crossing was in 1785, on the 7th of January. This was performed by inventor Jean Pierre Blanchard and Doctor John Jeffries, using a hydrogen balloon.
Thereafter, the number of flights increased to England, Italy and also to  the US.  Enthusiasm for hot-air ballooning was expanding as rapidly as the balloons themselves!

 

Hot Air Balloons and Gas Balloons

 

[Alors que l'enveloppe de la montgolfière est ouverte à sa partie inférieure pour faire pénétrer la chaleur du foyer, celle du ballon à gaz est complètement fermée, à l'exception de l'appendice qui permet l'évacuation du gaz quand le ballon est en surpression ; seule une soupape placée au sommet du ballon permet de libérer du gaz, et donc de descendre. A l'inverse, pour monter, on largue un peu de lest qui peut être du sable, de l'eau ou tout autre objet. Le gaz utilisé était à l'origine de l'hydrogène (découvert en 1766 par Cavendish) dégagé par la décomposition de l'eau sur du fer chauffé à blanc. Plus tard, on emploiera plus fréquemment du gaz d'éclairage ou de l'hydrogène provenant de la réaction de l'acide sulfurique sur de la limaille de fer.]

 

Hot-air Balloon and Military Art


In 1794, the French military used ground-tethered hot-air balloons. This enterprising adaption was key to the victory in Fleurus  on the 26th of June, 1794, as it gave critical  information about  enemy positions. Thank to this success, the Military Convention created the national aeronautic school in Meudon. Balloons would also be used during the Paris siege, between 1870 et 1871, to allow the capital to communicate with the outside world. There were 68 ascents, and the most famous is certainly the one by Internal Minsiter Leon Gambetta, who went to Epineuse and Tours and established the National Defence Council.

Hot-Air Balloon and Science


Hot-air balloons were used for several scientific ascents. In Hamburg, 1803, Robertson and Lhoest, reached an altitude of 7400 meters, and realised some observations about magnetism and electricity. Several Scientists, such as Gay Lussac, Barrel, Bixio, Tissandier, Sivel, Croce Spinelli, also used gas balloons for their experiments.

The century with many records


There were big achievements during the 19th century, such as Géant de Nadar, (6000m3, with a double level basket) and Giffard's famous tethered balloon, which climbed to a height of 500 meters at the top of Paris, carrying 30 passengers each time.

 

To fly, we need a cover, a basket, a burner to heat the air, and gas reservoirs to make the burner work.
The principle is quite simple: we heat, it goes up, we stop heating, and it goes down. In practice, it is not as simple as that, as hot-air balloons cannot choose their own direction; they follow the direction of the wind. Wind strength and wind direction differ according to altitude, so we need to factor this in and act accordingly to achieve the desired direction.

Compagnie des Ballons, located in Annecy, has a 3700 m3 balloon, catering for 4 to 5 passengers, and a 6000 m3 balloon for 8 to 9 passengers.

4-wheel drive vehicles are used to carry the balloon to the departure point,  they then follow the balloon during the flight in order to collect & return the balloon and all parties to the to original rendezvous point.
The 9-seater vehicles are Land Rover Defenders, specially adapted for this activity. For the Exception Flight, we use 4-wheel drive Hummers.

The most famous ballon constructors, from a sport and commercial point of view, are Spain's Globos UltraMAgic, the UK's Cameron Balloons,  Germany's Schoeder Fire Balloons, the Czech Republic's Kubicek Balloons and   US company, Sky Balloons.

  • The biggest hot-air balloon: 17,000 m3 in volume and able to carry 32 persons.

 

  • The highest altitude ever reached: 21,027 m; completed on the 26th of November 2005, by  Vijaypat Singhania from Mumbai, India.

 

  • The longest flight: 50hrs 38mins, completed on the 1st of February 1997, by the Michio Kanda from Japan, flying between Chestemere in Canada to Jordan in the USA.

 

  • The longest distance: 7671, 91 km, by the Michio Kanda, travelling from Miyakonojyou, Japan, to Yellowknife, Canada, on the 15th of January 1991.

 

  • The largest number of simultaneous flights in the world: 320 hot-air balloons, in Chambley, France, on the 26th of July 2009.

 

  • The biggest world event: 1000 hot-air balloon pilots meet each year in Albuquerque, USA.

Managing director for 20 years in an international transport company, Michel Passetemps decided to stay definitively in Annecy to create the first base for Compagnie des Ballons.


He is 50, married, with 3 kids, and he applies to his own company that which has always proven successful before: professionalism, listening to and supporting his customers, and respect for regulations and their application to provide quality and safety.


Michel discovered the fantastic hot-air balloon world when he was working in Val de Loire. He gained his certificate, created  Compagnie des Ballons and became a consummate specialist in mountain flight.

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