This weekend saw BOC supply fuel for the world’s longest running aeronautical event. BOC, a member of The Linde Group and the UK’s largest provider of industrial gases was a key supplier of hydrogen gas for the international, Gordon Bennett Coupe Aeronautique.
This year marked the 54th race and was the first event to be held in Britain. BOC supplied all 20 entrants with around 1000m³ of hydrogen gas. In order to fill all of the 20 entrants, BOC transported supplies from across the country in preparation for the launch. Steve Thompson, BOC’s Business Manager of Gases described this unusual request. He stated, “We are of course used to providing gases for an enormous range of uses, but this is the first time the Gordon Bennett race has come to Britain and so this project is one of the more individual one’s we’ve undertaken.”
Thompson added, “I’m pleased to say that our planning allowed us to get what is a significant amount of hydrogen gas to the launch site in good time for the event.”
The race was established in 1906 and this year saw the largest ever field of entries, with 20 teams from over 10 different countries taking part. Participating balloons set-off on Saturday 25th September and are expected to remain in the air for four days. Each balloon is manned by a two person crew. The winning team from among the fleet will be decided based upon the most distance covered.
BOC, the UK’s largest industrial gas company, benefits from 75 years worth of links with the Bristol region and regularly produces hydrogen, as Thompson explained, “We routinely produce hydrogen for a range of industrial processes. Our specialist vehicle fleet brought the gas from our plants around the country in good time to ensure that everything was ready for the start of the competition. A team of BOC engineers was at the launch site to transfer the hydrogen into the balloons.”
World-renowned balloonist Don Cameron, Chairman of the Gordon Bennett 2010 Organising Committee and Founder of Cameron Balloons, described this year’s competition as a ‘first’ for Bristol. He said, “The UK has never before hosted this event. Bringing together competitors from across the world as well as sponsors has been an exhilarating but strenuous project. Being able to call upon the technical expertise of specialists like BOC has made the task of bringing the spectacular race to Bristol that much easier.”
Following the event, competitors will return to Bristol where they will attend the medal and prize ceremony presented by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh.