Watch 433 hot air balloons set flight at once, breaking a world record

Up, up, and away.
Up, up, and away.
Image: AP Photo/ Alexandre Marchi/L'est Republicain, Pool
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Watching a gaggle of balloons shaped like french chateaus, chubby cartoon characters, and slender wine bottles taking flight simultaneously is a rare spectacle. But that’s about what happens every other year at the Lorraine Mondial festival in Chambley-Bussières, France. This year, on July 26, 433 balloons sailed into the air, breaking the world record for the most balloons to take flight at once from the same area. (The biennial event broke the record in 2013, too, with 391 balloons.)

This year’s festival hosted at the Chambley-Bussières air base attracted thousands of hot-air-balloon pilots and spectators from more than 40 countries. The air base was developed by Americans in the early 1950s in response to a perceived Soviet threat. Today, the lingering American runways make it easy for balloon festival organizers to orchestrate the simultaneous take-off. Here are some of the incredible photos from the show and the record-breaking lift off:

There is always concern about balloon-crowded skies leading to a crash, which has happened several times in the past at other events. To prevent this, the balloons were organized in 3.8-mile long (6km long) parallel lines, and the festival carried on without a hitch.

Philippe Buron-Pilatre, organizer of the semi-annual Lorraine Mondial Air Ballons festival, told TIME, that “a new page in ballooning history has been written.”