04 Apr 2023

Highlights of 2023 FAI Ballooning Commission (CIA) Plenary Meeting

Held in Hasle Rüegsau, Switzerland from 15-18 March 2023

By Debbie Spaeth, Chair, CIA Public & Media Relations (PMR) SC

The Blaser Swisslube headquarters in Hasle Rüegsau, Switzerland was the site for the 2023 FAI Ballooning Commission (CIA) Plenary and Subcommittee (SC) meetings. This was the second in-person meeting for the CIA following the CV-19 pandemic in March 2020.

CIA Attendees in front of Blaser – Credit David Strasmann

Special thanks to the Blaser Family, Peter and Marc, David Strasmann, and the Swisslube team for the hospitality and generosity to the attendees as they hosted the CIA Plenary events. This included daily lunches, a welcome reception, and a fondue dinner at the nearby Emmentaler cheese-making facility.

Marc Blaser (Blue Shirt/Left) Welcomes CIA Attendees. Credit Debbie Spaeth

Also, in a first-time event for the CIA Plenary, two balloon flights were organized for participants. On Thursday morning, before SC meetings and on Saturday afternoon, after the Plenary was finished, a team of Blaser balloons launched from the Swisslube grounds. On each occasion, Blaser Balloons were flown by international balloon pilots in attendance.

Balloon Flights @ CIA Meeting. Credit Markus Haggeney

David Strasmann- Meeting Organizer & pilot. Credit David Strasmann

Plenary Stats

  • Day 1 & 2 - Subcommittees meetings
  • Day 3 & 4 - Plenary meetings
  • (27) Countries Represented (Includes 4 Proxies)
  • (47) Plenary Attendees (Plus 8 guests)
  • (10) Zoom attendees registered

At the conclusion of the Subcommittee meetings, a Balloon Live/WatchMeFly training & Demo was held for on-site and remote participants. It was noted that during 2022, Balloon Live was used at 47 competition events listed on WatchMeFly. Thanks to Marc Andre (SUI) for assembling the FAI Gordon Bennett TV (GB-TV) broadcasting equipment on-site for the CIA Plenary. This created a 1st class presentation of the plenary meetings.

Balloon Live Presentation. Credit Debbie Spaeth

Financial Presentations

Markus Haggeney, FAI Secretary General, presented an overview of the FAI finances. Sanne Haarhuis, CIA Secretary presented details of the CIA finances.

FAI has an insurance policy that covers travel incidents for ballooning officials named by CIA for CIA Sanctioned Events.

Delegates presented reports on Ballooning activities in their countries during 2022. It was noted that activities are very slowly working their way back to pre-pandemic levels.

Upcoming CIA Sanctioned Balloon Events

  • The 6th FAI Junior World Hot Air Balloon Championship will be held from 21-27 Aug 2023 in Grudziadz, Poland.
  • The 5th FAI Women’s World Hot Air Balloon Championship will be held from 3-9 Sep 2023 in Northam, Australia.
  • The 66th FAI Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett will be held from 5-14 Oct 2023 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.
  • The 23rd FAI European Hot Air Balloon Championship was sanctioned for 16-23 August 2025 in Wieselburg, Austria.

CIA Event Development Services (EDS) SC will be working with WatchMeFly developers on a new CIA sanction application form.

Two Ballooning record attempts were homologated during 2022.

Delegates voted to support 2023 Balloon Youth Camps (BYC) scheduled in the following countries:  Czech Republic, France, Germany, and USA. Each BYC will be eligible for CHF1000.

Delegates approved exploration of the concept of a Hot Air TV channel.

FAI Ballooning Awards

  • Montgolfier Diploma for Contribution to Ballooning (2022), Peter Blaser, Switzerland.
  • Montgolfier Diploma for Best Gas Performance (2022), Benni Eimers, Germany
  • Montgolfier Diploma for Best Hot Air Performance (2022), Henk Broeders, Netherlands.

Peter Blaser Received Montgolfier Diploma for Contribution. Credit Debbie Spaeth

FAI Ballooning Hall of Fame inductees (2023):     

  • Living Inductee: Dewey Reinhard (USA)
  • Posthumous Inductee: Phillip Dunnington (UK)

Election of CIA Bureau, for a two-year term:  Current Bureau was re-elected, namely:

  • President: Mark Sullivan (USA)
  • 1st Vice President: Claude Weber (LUX)
  • 2nd Vice President: Uwe Schneider (GER)
  • 3rd Vice President: Marc Andre (SUI)
  • Secretary: Sanne Haarhuis (NED)

CIA Bureau was re-elected. Credit Debbie Spaeth

Next Meeting of CIA Plenary will be 13-16 March 2024. Location to be announced pending bids which are due within 30 days.

NOTE:  For details of the meeting, see minutes of the 2023 CIA Plenary Meeting which will be published in due course by the CIA Secretary.

Top picture – Balloons Launching from Blaser HQ Credit David Strasmann