High hopes for balloon titles

The picturesque landscape around Northam each spring will provide an ideal backdrop for next year’s National Hot Air Balloon Championships. Inset:
The picturesque landscape around Northam each spring will provide an ideal backdrop for next year’s National Hot Air Balloon Championships. Inset:

It will be the third time Northam has hosted the competition. The Australian Balloon Federation also allocated the titles to the town in 1981 and 1984. Both were highly successful, with the latter of the two introducing the current championship format for the first time.

The 2015 championships, which will run from August 27 to September 5, 2015, are being organised by the Northam Aero Club, with assistance from the Shire of Northam.

Shire councillors, the event committee and members of the public were told at the meeting there could be as many as 30 hot-air balloons competing at next year’s event, with up to 200 visitors staying in the town for the 10 days of the championships. Event co-ordinator Donna Tasker said the balloonists were ‘the best of the best’ and would be ready to test their skills in the Avon Valley.

Nicola Scaife, who won the first Federation Aeronautique Internationale World Women’s Hot Air Balloon Championship for Australia in Leszno, Poland, last month is expected to be in Northam for the title, along with her husband Matt, the current Australian hot-air ballooning champion.

The championship is likely to have a strong international flavour too, with early indicators suggesting a number of Japanese competitors will take part.

Shire President Steven Pollard said the council was keen to get behind it.

‘The Shire is always looking for events with spin-off benefits to the whole community,’ he said.

Among items being considered for funding is a smart-tracker phone app that could be used by spectators to follow balloons during the championships.

The Hot Air iPhone app, manufactured by Gano Technologies, is already available for US$4.99 on the iTunes site.

Organisers are seeking sponsors and volunteers for roles such as driving four-wheel drive vehicles and observing.

Contact Ms Tasker on 0439 020 512 or email info@ northamnationals.com.