26 Apr 2021

2021 CIA ePlenary Meeting Highlights: Moving ahead after a year of CV-19

By Debbie Spaeth, Chair, CIA Public & Media Relations (PMR) Sub-Committee

In December 2020, the International Ballooning Commission (CIA) Bureau announced their decision that the March 2021 CIA Plenary meeting would be conducted via Zoom meetings, certainly not unexpected. Then the meeting mechanisms were put in place, leading to a very successful series of meetings.

February Meetings for Sub-Committees & Working Groups

February 2021 meeting dates and times were scheduled for the sixteen CIA Sub-Committees (SC) and Working Groups (WG). SC and WG met across the four weeks in February. All meetings were set with a 2.5-hour timeslot. The challenge for all the meetings was to balance the starting times across the world time zones of SC & WC members.

Inevitably some attendees were on the calls at early hours, some at late hours. However, there was universal agreement that a positive of the Zoom meeting was that ALL committee members could attend ‘in-person’. Without the need to travel to a physical location with its attendant cost and time constraints, SC & WG members could slot out the on-line meeting time from their home base.

For some committee members, Zoom allowed them to ‘see’ their counterparts for the first time. And could share ideas within conversations ‘face-to-face’, rather than email exchanges. Everyone felt this was a real plus in the face of so many other life limitations due to CV-19. SC chairs and members decided to continue the Zoom meeting in the future, to allow for the complete group of members to convene ahead of the Plenary meeting.

Balloonists from 31 countries participated in the CIA ePlenary Zoom meetings

CIA e-Plenary Opened on March 17th

Thirty-one countries were represented when the ePlenary meeting opened. Registered attendees numbered 67 including Delegates, SC Chairs and Observers. Details of shared presentations were coordinated between the CIA Secretary and the Chairs of the SC & WC. This went smoothly.

Roll Call of NACs attending the 2021 CIA ePlenary meeting

CIA President Mark Sullivan welcomed several special guests to the ePlenary. This included Jean-Claude Weber, CIA President of Honor; Markus Haggeney, FAI Secretary General, and Wolfgang Lintl, President CIMA. Also joining the ePlenary was FAI President, David Monks.

FAI President Monks shared a review of the CV-19 challenges across all FAI Commissions. He meets monthly with all FAI Commission Presidents to share challenges, concerns, and successes among the Commissions as CV-19 disruptions continue around the world.

As with other large public gatherings, all the 2020 CIA sanctioned Ballooning Championship events were cancelled or postponed following the world shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Much time was spent talking about the 2021 outlook for events and options with various scenarios. Organizers will be keeping participants updated as conditions change, and new information is available in the host countries.

Several successful record attempts were flown during the past year. Leticia Neomi Marques (ARG) set an AT15 World Distance & Duration record. Alicia Hempleman-Adams (GBR) set an AX4-AX6 Feminine Altitude record. Congratulations to them.

An update of the successful launch and the initial sale of (517) of the new FAI-CIA Balloon Live Sensor and App was presented. And the announcement of a Balloon Live Contest 2021, a World-side, decentralized competition was shared.

Balloon Live is the new CIA Competition Logging Device

CIA Awards Announced…

As CIA President Mark Sullivan said on the final day of the ePlenary, “now is time for the Fun Portion” of the annual meeting – announcing CIA Awards.

CIA Montgolfier Diploma

  • For Best Performance in a Gas Balloon – Andy Caton (USA) & Krzysztof Zapart (POL)
  • For Best Performance in a Hot Air Balloon – Kim Magee (USA)

FAI Certificates of Appreciation were presented to:

  • Marc André (SUI)
  • Ricardo Aracil (ESP)
  • Erwin Pellegrom (NED)
  • Andrew Robertson (AUS)
  • Julius Venskus (LTU)

The FAI Ballooning Hall of Fame inductees for 2021 were announced:

  • Wilhelm Eimers (Germany)
  • Jim Winker (USA) Posthumous

Congratulations to all the recipients.

2021 FAI CIA Hall of Fame Inductees are Willie Eimers & Jim Winker

CIA Bureau Elections

  • President: Mark Sullivan (USA)
  • 1st Vice President: Claude Weber (LUX)
  • 2nd Vice President: Uwe Schneider (GER)
  • 3rd Vice President: Marc André (SUI)
  • CIA Secretary: Sanne Haahuis (NED)

CIA Bureau re-elected for new 2-year term

Socializing @ International Ballooning Embassy - via App

The 2021 CIA ePlenary finished on Friday. And delegates relaxed and socialized at the “International Ballooning Embassy” hosted on the Wonder.me social App. Each person had a bubble that could be moved between larger group bubbles. It was fun to socialize with CIA ePlenary attendees and join a variety of conversations.

Socializing @ the Virtual Ballooning Embassy via Wonder.me App

2022 CIA Meeting Location TBD

The 2022 CIA Meeting location will be outside the FAI location in Lausanne, Switzerland. Exact location will be approved by the CIA Bureau. Hope to see everyone ‘in person’ in March 2022.

NOTE: Complete minutes of the 2021 ePlenary meeting will be found on the CIA Documents page.