Vitoria-Gasteiz has had special relevance within aeronautics since the second half of the 19th Century when it was already possible to see hot air balloons flying in our skies. At that time, hot air ballooning was closely linked to the circus, an event where spectators would delight in the ceremony of the hot air balloon being filled up using stoves with fire, dry leaves and straw which produced sufficient heat to fill the balloon which could then rise up into the heavens.
Vitoria-Gasteiz has long been a significant location for hot air ballooning, thanks to its geographical setting on the Paris-Madrid route and the Salburua airfield an important location for air flight.
One of the people behind this development was Heraclio Alfaro who put our city on the air flight map. Alfaro, grandson of Heraclio Fournier, the founder of the playing cards factory, was an important aeronautics engineer and aviator from Vitoria who in the early days of aviation made his name among the pioneers of the sector.
The intrepid Fournier’s attention was drawn to aircraft, hot air balloon regattas, hot air balloons themselves and airships from an early age. In fact, on June 22 1914 he flew his own aircraft named Alfaro I, the first plane made in Spain. He flew this plane over Vitoria-Gasteiz to the delight and amazement of all the citizens of the time.