The world’s first international ecological hot air balloon pursuit race, the Prince Albert II Cup, will launch from Monaco in the coming months.

Six countries divided into ten teams will compete in the inaugural Prince Albert II Cup, setting off from a number of the Principality’s most prestigious locations before crossing the Italian Alps in pursuit of the MONACO hot air balloon, which will take off right in front of the Prince’s Palace.

This prestigious event, organised by the Aeronauts Club of Monaco, is certainly a different sort of race than Monaco is accustomed to. Ten international ecological hot-air balloons will take off towards Italy, crossing the Southern Italian Alps at an altitude of over 6,000 metres, before landing near Piedmont, all in the space of one day.

Flight time is predicted to be anywhere between three and six hours. However, the start of the race is much more difficult to pinpoint, with the date scheduled in anywhere from February 1 to April 30, as weather conditions will have to be deemed optimal at all stages of the event. The exact race date will be announced a few days beforehand, on the advice of the official meteorologist.

The Prince Albert II Cup is the brainchild of Alain Cruteanschii, the President of the Aeronauts Club of Monaco and the pilot of the MONACO balloon, an ecological hot air balloon clad in the colours of Monaco. Keeping in line with the Principality’s environmentally-conscious values, the balloon is powered by bio-propane burners and features a double wall for maximum energy concentration.

“The idea was born five years ago, when we imagined the creation of an ecological hot-air balloon in the colours of Monaco. This dream has since become a reality, thanks in particular to the contribution of the Marzocco group,” revealed Alain Cruteanschii, before continuing to add “the club then presented it to the Sovereign, who was delighted with the initiative. The organisation of the Prince Albert II Cup was then launched.”

The President of the Aeronauts of Monaco is also delighted with the great interest shown in this innovative project “from the beginning” by HSH Prince Albert II. “It’s a privilege to have His personal support, as well as that of His foundation.” said Cruteanschii, who took the Sovereign up in the MONACO hot air balloon for the first time last summer.

Cruteanschii and the Aeronauts of Monaco had a very busy 2023, taking to the skies above Europe in the MONACO hot air balloon for 80 days on a remarkable journey totalling 9,400 kilometres of air travel. Read about that adventure here.