Whilst national balloon federations look after balloons and balloonists in their individual countries international competitions and the control of world records is vested in the Federation Aviation International (FAI) which has its offices in Switzerland. Through the national federations the FAI links 10.000 pilots from countries all over the world. Every other year the FAI sanctions a World Championship where up to 100 of the best balloon pilots compete for the title. During the competition the pilots will fly some twenty or more tasks.
Each competitive flight will consist of a number of individual tasks, each of which is a precision navigation exercise. On each of these tasks the pilot will be required to drop one or markers onto a target a number of kilometres from his takeoff place. Because a balloon has no motive power the pilot has to use the winds at different heights to reach a particular target. Despite the vagaries of the winds most competition pilots are able to navigate precisely enough to ensure that there will be many markers within the five metre arms of the cross. On each task the closest to the centre of the cross wins the task.