The 17th edition of GEMAB, the Grand Est Mondial Air Ballons 2021

Hoist and High! Such a beautiful story of the future


Two websites, newsletters, social networks (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn),
Every day the four-page “AéroFil” newspaper in French and English is published. Good Morning Chambley radio broadcasts from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on FM and the web.
It takes nearly twenty months of preparation for Pilâtre de Rozier Organization, which deploys its activity all year round to set up this event.
Designed in 1989 to mark the bicentenary of the French revolution, the Mondial Air Ballons was first called Fraternité 89, then from 1991 to 2001, the World Biennial of Aerostation, before becoming MONDIAL AIR BALLONS. The challenge is to organize the largest international hot-air balloon event in the world for ten days in the heart of Europe.
Since 1989, no less than 67 nationalities have participated in the Grand Est Mondial Air Ballons!


This is :

  • 67 Nationalities represented through the pilots
  • 45 days of assembly and disassembly required
  • 450 people in the organization
  • 217 number of flights since 1989
  • 21,840 pastries served to pilots and budget crews
  • 3 M € total budget
  • 30 M € economic and media benefits
  • 5,000 organization meals served
  • 3000 pilots and crew members
  • 19 potential flights (average of 14 for 30 years
  • (4,032 rolls of toilet paper used in 2019)


Chambley aerodrome. 486 hectares. Initially an airfield linked to the Maginot Line in 1940 and from 1954, the site was developed by the Americans to build a base for F 86 Sabers. More than 3000 soldiers and their families stayed there until 1967. Among them, Michaël Collins, the commander of the shuttle which will take Armstrong and Aldrin in 1969 on the moon. In 1957 the young commander Collins married on the base before joining the astronaut corps. For a few years, at the nearby Toul Rosières base, he rubbed shoulders with the famous Chuck Yeager, the man who broke the sound barrier in 1947, aboard his Bell-X1.


The hot air balloon was born in France. Since Icarus, man has always dreamed of flying through the air like birds. Between June 04, 1783 when the papermaker brothers Etienne and Joseph Montgolfier in Annonay (Ardèche) invented the process and November 21, 1783 when Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis François d’Arlandes flew from the heart of Paris, these six months will change the world. Now we fly in the air. Then will come on December 1 of the same year, free gas balloons (hydrogen then helium). If free balloons conquered the hearts of the military until World War II, hot air balloons disappeared during the French Revolution only to reappear in the 1960s in the United States. And since then, more than 12,000 pilots have flown around the world.

From Pilâtre de Rozier to Philippe Buron Pilâtre

The young physicist Pilâtre de Rozier was born in Metz on March 30, 1754, founder of the Musée de Monsieur, chemist inventor of the gas mask and phosphoric candles. This brilliant subject of Louis XVI, undoubtedly does not imagine that he will become the first man to rise in the air, thanks to the strange machine of the Montgolfier brothers. This is what he achieved on November 21, 1783, before creating another kind of airship, the rozière. The combination of a hot-air balloon and a gas balloon that precipitated his fall (and his death) on June 15, 1785, on the French coast, while attempting to reach England by air. A few generations later, Emile Pilâtre, founder of the Forges et Aciéries de Touraine, whose Lorraine family has been in exile since 1870 in central France, entrusts his first great-grandson with the task of bringing the family memory to life. In 1979, the young Philippe made his first hot-air balloon flight with his friend Hugues de Sade and very quickly his passion won him over. He started his career in the notarial profession, before turning to journalism by joining Agence France Presse. A profession he left in the mid-1990s to convert to communications and events. It was then the creation of a hot air balloon club, a maintenance workshop, then a hot air balloon factory. A man of networks, he has been a member of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council since 2001, teaching at the University of Lorraine, then for 10 years working at Ena for crisis communication. Pilot Instructor, he has totaled more than 2000 flight hours and his school has

Practical reception: The entrance and the car parks are offered to visitors by the partners. And this since the inception of the event. It is a tourist promotion tool which should also benefit the inhabitants of the region. Nineteen hot-air balloon flights are planned if the weather is good. And as the balloons take off very early in the morning and late at night, the day should allow spectators to discover the riches of the many aerial activities.

More than fifty animations

There are of course the mass balloon flights, twice a day, morning and evening, first flights in Ulm, helicopter, plane, hot air balloon, flexible sail and glider from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. And on earth, for young and old, more than fifty activities are offered:

• Lectures and films in the AeroMuseum
• Visits to the aerial photography museum, aircraft, helicopter, glider and Ulm maintenance hangars
• Four flight simulators (hot air balloon, microlight and plane)
• Tourism Village (meet the operators, discover the destinations and the diversity of the local offer in the Grand Est region)
• Sports Village (learn about a wide choice of outdoor sports: tennis, climbing, athletics, archery, duathlon, rugby)
• Les Ateliers des Airs (manufacture of rockets, mini hot air balloons, drawings, visit to the belly of a balloon, flight of “soft toys” in mini hot air balloons) • Astronomy workshop
• Exhibition on aeronautical careers sponsored by the French Navy and the Lycée Jean Zay
• The pilots’ pod vacuum
• Lorraine Quality Meat Stand
• Local producers, artisans and traders offer a wide range of products and services. Great opportunities to seize
• The official #GEMAB store (for all hot air balloon aficionados)
• Giant trampolines, merry-go-round with flying chairs, laughter house
• The pilots parade (every evening before takeoff)
• The Pavilion of the Future: technologies of the future
• Radio stage (many prizes to be won),

Nocturnes Every evening from 10 p.m. (summer obligatory), with the exception of the last Sunday, visitors have the chance to have a free night show. And to be patient, between the end of mass take-offs around 9:00 p.m., it is possible to eat. These events also make it possible to make exits from car parks more fluid. Thus, the inflations of mini hot air balloons, discoveries of the stars with telescopes and of course, the inflating of hot air balloons at night are offered.

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