First flight ignites passion

Pilot Donna Tasker fires up a hot air balloon.
Pilot Donna Tasker fires up a hot air balloon.

She was a passenger on a commercial balloon flight and instantly fell in love with it.

She has since gained her fixed-wing licence, as well as an Australian and British commercial ballooning licence.

�It�s not something you just like; flying a hot air balloon becomes an intense passion,� she said.

After participating in her fair share of competitions, including events in the UK and Malaysia, Ms Tasker now spends her time as a commercial balloon pilot in Northam and has since become the WA representative for the Australian ballooning federation.

When asked whether she was afraid of heading skywards on her first flight, Ms Tasker only laughed and said she had never shied away from trying something new.

�I had this instinct to get up off the ground and see the world from a different perspective,� she said.

Ms Tasker said being a balloon pilot meant getting up before the break of dawn every morning and living according to the weather cycles, but that it all became worth it once she was up in the air and away from all hustle and |bustle below.

�There is a sense of peace being at the mercy of the elements � for me it�s the best kind of meditation,� she said.

Though Ms Tasker will not compete in this year�s national championship, she has been involved in organising the event and will be doing commercial flights for spectators and sponsors during the week.

She said the most exciting thing about this year�s championship would be seeing so many talented pilots gathered in Northam to put their talents on display.

Michael Clements is one of the pilots representing WA and will compete against 29 other balloonists, including his brothers Andrew and Peter.

The three have been involved in hot air ballooning since the 1970s after their father bought a balloon for the family farm in Northam.

�We regularly fly together and it�s great because we can support each other in the competition next week,� Michael said.

He is the president of the WA Balloon and Airship Club and a member of the Northam Aero Club. He encouraged people to get involved in the sport and said it was safe as long as people remained alert and �respected the elements�.