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French balloonists cross Channel in 'flying fish'

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French balloonists cross Channel in 'flying fish'
The "Flying Fish" Irish Challenger takes off from Cap Gris-Nez, before landing near Folkestone in Kent on September 4th. Photo: Kioute66/Youtube
12:24 CEST+02:00
A pair of French men made history on Wednesday morning, becoming the first to cross the English Channel in an electric-powered “flying fish” balloon. The odd-shaped vessel landed in Folkestone, Kent two and a half hours after taking off (see video).

French television present Gérard Feldzer, and aeronautics expert Pierre Chabert became the first in history to cross the English Channel in an electric-powered balloon on Wednesday.

Their Iris Challenger balloon, nicknamed the “Flying Fish” by parts of the French media, took off from Cap Gris-Nez in the northern department of Pas-de-Calais at 7.30 am French time (see video below).

Just two hours and 23 minutes later, the pair successfully touched down near Folkestone in Kent, according to local daily La Voix du Nord.


Spectators enjoy the early-morning flight amid the picturesque surrounds of Cap Gris-Nez. Photo: Kioute66/Youtube

The balloon – inspired by the shape of a tuna, according to French daily Le Parisien – weighs 200 kg, and is composed of ultra-resistant polymer fabric.

Feldzer and Chabert had attempted the historic journey in 2011, but poor weather conditions thwarted their efforts then.

They were greeted at Cap Gris-Nez on Wednesday morning, however, with near-perfect conditions for a cross-channel flight.

Watch the moment they take off from France in this video by Kioute66

And enjoy the first few minutes of their historic journey with these videos:

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