SATURDAY 2nd - SATURDAY 9th SEPTEMBER 2017
Following the enormous success of the Australian National Ballooning Championships held in Northam in 2015, the ABF has again awarded the Event to Northam for 2017; so once again, the Northam Aero Club will be delighted to WELCOME visiting balloon crews and pilots from interstate and overseas; as well as members of the public from locations across Western Australia. ALL are INVITED to experience the visual spectacle of the massed balloons taking to the air in a colourful and breathtaking display. .
Competition flights (tasks) require pilots to exercise skill in manoeuvring their balloons over a set course with goals, targets, scoring areas, time and distance limits. Good results in competition tasks are achieved using
the variation of winds at different altitudes to fly in the direction of a goal and accurately approach the target. Balloons do not land on the target itself. Crew members aboard the balloons drop markers onto or as close to the target as they can fly. The markers are small sandbags with streamers attached. We ask you to not touch the markers or move them as this may adversely affect the score of the pilots and their competition results.
Practice flights will take place, weather permitting, at sunrise on the Saturday & Sunday prior to the commencement of the Competition. The competition flights will take place, weather permitting, each sunrise and in the afternoons, from Monday Friday. At sunrise on Saturday there will either be an additional competition flight, or the exciting ‘key grab‘, a highly skilled challenge where pilots have to literally grab a foam key mounted on top of a 10m pole. The key represents the key to a prize. Pilots select a take off point that will allow them to fly over the Northam Airfield, where the prize pole will be located.
The launch site for the morning flights will be decided after studying the weather conditions in the pre-dawn hours, and advised after the Pilot Briefing at the Northam Airfield, at 6 a.m. The afternoon flight detail will be decided at an afternoon briefing at the airfield.
During the event there will be a daily flight bulletin at the top of this page, and on our Facebook page.
The protected Avon Valley offers the best conditions for ballooning in Western Australia, however balloon flights are always weather dependent; wind speeds in excess of about 10 km/hr on the ground will result in cancellation for safety reasons. Optimum conditions are usually found in the morning, after the cold nights keep the wind conditions still, in the valley.
If you are already in the Avon Valley, you will be able to check the website or Face Book page for the launch detail, and we recommend that you then make your way to the Northam Airfield (see our Getting There page) where our friendly team of volunteers will be able recommend how best to view the balloons.
If you are planning to travel from further afield (Perth for example) it might be best to check the website or Face Book page whilst you are on the way. If you delay your departure to wait for the launch update, you might miss the balloons!
We need to remind all our visiting spectator vehicles to follow the ROAD RULES of Western Australia, be courteous to other drivers on the road by not holding up traffic whilst looking at balloons, and not blocking any roads or driveways by parking inappropriately.
The balloons will often land on private farming property. Please do NOT follow any ground crews onto private property, or on to any sports ovals or grassed public areas.
Please drive safely everyone - and ENJOY this wonderful opportunity of seeing this spectacular event happen in our Region!
Enjoy a different perspective for viewing the spectacle of so many colourful balloons taking to our skies, and the enchanting experience of a sunrise hot air balloon flight over the picturesque Avon Valley. Balloon flights can be booked through Windward Balloon Adventures in Northam at: www.windwardballooning.com. Phone: 08 9621 2000
Photo: Damien Hays
Northam is located 100km east of Perth. Travel between Perth and Northam is via the Great Eastern Highway, with travel time of approx. 1 hr. The Great Eastern Highway is the major road route connecting Western Australia with the eastern states.
The competition area extends approx. 40 km north/south, and approx. 30 km east/west; loosely from Irish Town (north) to Mackie Siding (south), and from Berry Hill (west) to Meenaar (east). The Avon River flows from south to north, through the Northam Town Centre.
Northam is a service centre and an agricultural based Town. Significant road and rail infrastructure are focused on the Town Centre. The Region‘s agriculture is generally wheat / sheep in nature. There are several stud farms in the area and crops are typically wheat, barley, canola and export hay.
The Northam Aero Club was formed in 1968, and has acquired and developed the existing airfield. Approximately ten years ago the Club handed the airfields back to the Shire of Northam, in order to ensure continued and ordered development. The Shire has made extensive improvements since that time, and has appointed the Aero Club as manager of the field to advise on operational and maintenance matters.
The Northam Aero Club has around 100 members and operates a flying school with it‘s Cessna aircraft. Cost of flying instruction at Northam are significantly less that other enterprises, due largely to the lack of circuit congestion etc. The Northam Aero Club has a great social calendar, and has a bar and catering facilities at the Club Rooms. New and prospective members are always welcome.
The Northam Aero Club is the organizer of this Championship, similar to the successful Events of 1981, 1984 and 2015. The Club has been associated with ballooning and airship operations since the early ‘70s. Scores of records (World, Australian, British and Japanese) have been set from the Northam base. In previous years Steve Fossett made both of his attempts to fly solo around the world from the Northam airfield. The second of these was the successful solo circuit.
Photo: Sharon Pedler.
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