Hot-air balloons: Belgians take to the skies


Ramses Vanneste soared to 7,000 metres in his hot-air balloon to achieve his dream of flying over the highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro. Located in north-east Tanzania and composed of three volcanoes, it is the continent's most symbolic mountain, with its summit at an altitude of 5,891.8 metres.

But this altitude was not enough for flying over the giant; they had to climb even higher. The three men, Ramses Vanneste, his father and a friend, climbed to 7,100 metres to ensure they had a safety margin. However, above 4,000 meters, humans need oxygen to breathe and propane from the burner to maintain combustion. Careful preparation allowed the three men to accomplish their feat without problems.


Flying over Kilimanjaro is another achievement for Ramses Vanneste from Zwevegem. He was the Belgian long-distance record holder, flying the 1,011 km from Wallonia to Łódź, Poland, in 12 hours.


This record has just been beaten by David Spildooren, from Sint-Niklaas. The pilot from Waasmunster (East Flanders) landed in Perugia, Italy, after 11 hours' solo flight and 1,120 km. The 30-year-old flew over the Alps at an altitude of between 4,500 and 5,400 metres.


He had already won a bronze medal at the European Hot Air Balloon Championship in Hungary in September.


Belgium's highest point might well be 694 metres high, but Belgians love to take to the skies.