Hot air balloons are back

Preparations are well underway for the National Ballooning Championships over the Avon Valley later this month.
Preparations are well underway for the National Ballooning Championships over the Avon Valley later this month.

The excitement is building in the country town, where the championships were last held 31 years ago in 1984.

Plans for the August 28 to September 6 event include a huge party with plenty of balloons.

Organising committee chairman Gren Putland said balloon pilots from China, Japan, Russia, the UK and across Australia will compete over five days.

�The championships are all about testing the skills of pilots at varying winds and altitudes, rather than speed, in a variety of different challenges,� Mr Putland said.

�Northam is WA�s home of hot air ballooning and to see up to 30 balloons in the skies here over the course of the event will be an incredible treat for spectators and ballooning enthusiasts.�

Competitors include current women�s world hot air balloon champion Nicola Scaife (NSW), five-time Australian champion Paul Gibbs (NSW) and 2014 Australian champion Matthew Scaife (NSW).

The three West Australians competing in the championships are brothers Andrew, Michael and Peter Clements.

Community events will include exhibitions, expos and performances, including the Balloon Glow and Fiesta official launch on August 29.

Northam Aero Club will host the championships, supported locally by organisations such as the Shire of Northam, Northam Chamber of Commerce and the Avon Community Development Foundation.

Visit www.northam nationals.com or www.facebook.com/northamnationals.