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September: After consultations with Lithuanian hot air balloon pilot Rimvidas Maciulevicius a pioneer of hot air ballooning in Latvia GUNARS DUKSTE decided to obtain a balloon and to master his piloting skills.

December: A hot-air balloon made by the INTERAVIA company was received in Moscow and carried to Riga.


April 3: The first Latvian hot air balloon got its name VINNIJS and registration number YL-001. This was the first aircraft to be recorded in independent Latvia's aircraft register, even before aeroplanes.

April 4: The first historical flight of VINNIJS. It started in the very heart of Riga - Doma Square and lasted 11 minutes. This was the first Dukste's hot air balloon flight, which happened to be on his birthday.

May 18: After pilot courses in Lithuania and an intensive training Gunars Dukste passed the flight test and got the pilot's licence.

June 8 to 12: The 1st International Hot Air Balloon Festival organized by G.Dukste in Latvia. Eight balloons from Russia, Lithuania and Latvia participated in the Festival.


April 17: The first flight of COCA-COLA hot air balloon provided by Gunars Dukste.

May 19 to 23: The 2nd International Hot Air Balloon Festival. 11 balloons from 8 countries were represented - Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Belgium, Germany, Lithuania, Russia and Latvia.

June 25: A historical flight took place in Tallinn with three pilots from three Baltic States cooperating. The hot air balloon marked by COCA-COLA trademark got launched by Lithuanian pilot ROMUALDAS BAKANAUSKAS, flew in operated by TOMAS MADISSON from Estonia and landed by Latvian pilot Gunars Dukste.


April: By the highlight of two years anniversary of the flight of VINNIJS, the five Latvian hot air balloons were registered: YL-001 VINNIJS; YL-002 CONSUM; YL-003 COCA-COLA; YL-004 LATVIAN MOBILE TELEPHONY; YL-005 DAUGAVA as well as three licensed balloon pilots: GUNARS DUKSTE, ATIS OSTUPS and SANDIS KALEJS.

May 14: A historical flight of the balloon VINNIJS piloted by Gunars Dukste happened in Latvia's town Kuldiga. The balloon passenger was EVALDS VALTERS, who at this moment was 100 years, 1 month and 12 days old, being considered the oldest working actor in the world and now probably the oldest hot air balloon passenger as well.

May 18 to 23: The 3rd International Balloon Festival, Latvia '94.

August 5 to 7: For the first time Latvian balloon took part in the International Balloon Fiesta, Bristol '95. The balloon YL-004 LATVIAN MOBILE TELEPHONY piloted by Gunars Dukste flew in British sky among 150 another balloons.

October 7: Pilot Gunars Dukste set up the first records in the Latvian ballooning. The balloon YL-003 COCA-COLA (Sub-Class AX-7) performed the following records: altitude - 3375 m; distance - 84200 m; duration - 1 hour 52:02 minutes.


May 17 to 21: The 4th Festival of Ballooning, Latvia '95. The American ballooning veteran and legend Robert Kinsinger (72 years old) who has flown over the Magnetic North Pole, was among festival guests.

July 1 to 8: The début of the Latvian balloon pilot in the 12th World Hot Air Balloon Championship, Battle Creek, USA.

August 3 to 6: The LATVIAN MOBILE TELEPHONY balloon operated by pilot Gunars Dukste represented Latvia in the 3rd European Cup in France.


March - May: The Latvian Club of Ballooning organized a training course to prepare observers for the Baltic Cup '96.

May 15 to 19: The annual 5th International Festival of Ballooning included the 1st Baltic Cup '96, the competition based on international standards, first involving observers. 16 balloons took part representing Poland, Finland, Lithuania, United Kingdom, Hungary, Belarus, Holland and Latvia.


The 6th Festival of Ballooning, Baltic Cup '97 for the first time in Latvia was sanctioned by the International Federation of Aviation. The Festival gathered 30 pilots from Latvia and far and near countries. Among them was Janne Balkedal (Sweden) - vice champion of ballooning of the world. He was a favourite in Baltic Cup '97, too. Among the fiesta balloons was one of the greatest special shape balloons in the world a Flying Cow from Netherlands.

This year was really sportive and full of new adventures and impressions to Gunars Dukste. He participated in the 1st World Air Games in Turkey in September, Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in USA in October and in World Hot Air Balloon Championship in Saga, Japan in November.


There were 3 special shape balloons in the 7th Festival of Ballooning – a Frog, a Cake and the very 1st special shape balloon in the world a dolly Golly. This year the first time Latvian pilot Sandis Kalejs made his first appearance in the European Hot Air Balloon Championship in Sweden. He took the 45th place among 77 competitors.


This year began with surprising announcement – Latvian ballooning pioneer Gunars Dukste was going to the North Pole to make a flight over it. He realised his intention and together with his team members Viesturs Koziols and Vilis Dambins made a flight over the North Pole at an altitude of 500 metres on the 25th of April. North Pole Photo

The annual Festival of Ballooning, Baltic Cup '99 changed its location from Sigulda to Tervete for the first time.