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French hot-air balloon festival sets new world records


The Lorraine Mondial Air Ballons hot-air balloon festival near Metz set two world records, filling the sky with a record 408 balloons at one time and lining up 391 for take-off. The 10-day festival, which ended Sunday, drew more than 350,000 people.


A massive gathering of hot-air balloon enthusiasts in northeastern France has set two world records, filling the sky with 408 of the colourful craft at one time and lining up 391 of them for takeoff.

But organisers of the Lorraine Mondial Air Ballons festival near the city of Metz, which drew upwards of 350,000 people, lamented capricious weather conditions and bad behaviour by some of the participants.

"In 25 years it's the year with the fewest flights (because of) very uncertain weather, too much wind some evenings as well as storms," founder Philippe Buron Pilatre told AFP on Sunday.

Fewer than half of the 19 mass flights planned over the 10 days of the festival could be held, he said.

Pilatre also regretted "forms of incivility" among some participants, notably around 20 pilots who deliberately landed their balloons on cropland instead of on roads and lanes, drawing the ire of local farmers.

A total of 1,207 pilots, nearly 2,000 crew and 983 hot-air balloons took part in the festival, which ended Sunday.


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