Modern hot air ballooning in Australia began with the formation of the Aerostat Society by students and staff at the University of Sydney in 1964.
In 1978 the ABF succeeded the Aerostat Society as the prime organisation representing sport balloonists in Australia.
The first President of the ABF was Eddie Selman who was also the Director of the first two National Championships.
|1978 - 1981||Eddie Selman|
|1981 - 1984||Dale Allen|
|1984 - 1987||Adrian Clements|
|1987 - 1991||Ian Tooth|
|1991 - 1992||Daryl Stuart|
|1992 - 1993||Kay Turnbull|
|1993 - 1995||Danny Galbraith|
|1995 - 1997||Daryl Stuart|
|1997 - 1998||Ruth Wilson|
|1998 - 2000||Adam Barrow|
|2000 - 2009||Gary Pask|
|2009 - 2016||Paul Gibbs|
|2016 - Current||Martin Tregale|
Australian National Champions
The first championship was run at Belconnen ACT in 1978. Bill Watson was the winner of the sole task flown but FAI rules require three tasks over two flights to declare a Championship and a Champion. With only one task flown, a result and champion pilot could not be declared.
The second championship was held in 1979 at Greenthorpe NSW (south of Cowra). This championship had 3 tasks and 5 competitors, with Ruth Wilson being declared the first Australian National Hot Air Ballooning Champion.
A PDF with more information on past National Championship events and results can be found in the Documents section of the website.
|1978||Bill Watson||Belconnen ACT||(Winner but not Champion - see above)|
|1979||Ruth Wilson||Greenthorpe||See quote below|
|1981||Bob Dickson||Northam WA|
|1982||Peter Vizzard||Seppeltsfield SA|
|1984||Judy Lynne||Northam WA||See quote below|
|1986||Peter Vizzard||Seppeltsfield SA||See quote below|
|1988||John Wallington||Canowindra NSW||See quote below|
|1990||Phil Kavanagh||Benalla VIC||See quote below|
|1992||John Wallington||Yanco NSW||See quote below|
|1994||Edwin Michell||Mildura VIC|
|1996||Paul Gibbs||Mildura VIC||See quote below|
|1998||Paul Gibbs||Mildura VIC||See quote below|
|2001||Tim Steiner||Mildura VIC||See quote below|
|2003||Sean Kavanagh||Mildura VIC|
|2007||Paul Gibbs||Benalla VIC||See quote below|
|2009||Paul Gibbs||Benalla VIC||See quote below|
|2011||Thomas Dattler||Canowindra NSW|
|2013||Paul Gibbs||Canowindra NSW|
|2014||Matthew Scaife||Canowindra NSW|
|2015||Matthew Scaife||Northam WA|
|2017||Matthew Scaife||Northam WA|
|2019||Sean Kavanagh||Mudgee, NSW|
Winning a National Championship, what it meant to the Champions?
About the first Nationals by Phil Kavanagh
"The first attempt at a National Championship, was held near Canberra to coincide with the opening of the Belconnen Mall. It was only one event (JDG) and was won by Bill Watson, who was first to the goal, making a competition landing, (there were no markers), about fifty metres or so from the intersection. Bill then dragged his balloon envelope around so it appeared that the wind direction was at 90 degrees to the actual, before any of the other competitors were close enough to see him do it. It worked. Everyone used his balloon as an indicator of the ground wind direction and all went off in the wrong direction."
Ruth Wilson, 1979
Roger Meadmore was the sponsor of the event with his Lovely Lady logos and pancakes. Roger presented me with a silver champagne bucket.
Judy Lynne, 1984
‘At the time I won the National Championships I was flying a great deal, had a fledgling balloon company, and was delighted to find my flying skills were on a par with the best in Australia. After winning the Championships I felt that I could do anything, and go anywhere, in my little Balloon Works balloon.’
John Wallington, 1988 & 1992
‘Both National Championship wins in 1988 and 1992 have provided real and significant high points in my life. The sense of satisfaction and team euphoria has been incredible. The 1988 championship was my first ever ballooning competition so to win it was a bit of a surprise. The 1992 competition was memorable for the essential contribution of my father and his wind reader, in particular allowing four teams to approach one target from the opposite direction to all other competitors. His contribution to the win was vital and gave him enormous satisfaction only weeks before he became sick and died. To win the Sunrice Championships in”Sunrice”, kindly loaned to me by Ian and Ruth Tooth, was great.
Phil Kavanagh, 1990
‘Winning the Nationals in 1990 only meant that my total at the end of the week was a bit more than the next competitor. I cannot bring to mind any of the flights during that week, except for the last one, and I think that’s because I was relieved I hadn’t blown it’.
Paul Gibbs, 1996, 1998, 2007, 2009, 2013
"When the crew and I won in 1996 it was a great sense of relief. I knew I could do it but it was a question of putting it all together. In 90,92,94, I had placed third, which was consistent".
|1983||Peter Vizzard||World Champion|
|2014||Nicola Scaife||Women's World Champion|
|2016||Nicola Scaife||Women's World Champion|
World Championship Teams
Australia has been represented at all but one World Championship since the first event in 1973. The following table sets out the pilots and their results over the years.
|Year||Pilots & Results|
|1973||Peter Vizzard (6th)|
|1975||Peter Vizzard (3rd)|
|1977||Peter Vizzard (36th)|
|1979||Willial Watson (26th)|
|1981||Peter Vizzard (30th)||Ruth E Wilson (32nd)|
|1983||Peter Vizzard (1st)||Gren Putland (8th)||Ruth E Wilson (55th)|
|1985||Peter Vizzard (17th)||Judy Lynne (44th)||Allan Shore (49th)||Marc Bristow-Stagg (57th)|
|1987||Ruth E Wilson (15th)||Peter Vizzard (17th)||Michael Conran (63rd)|
|1989||John Wallington (19th)||Edwin Michell (65th)||Mark Wilson (78th)||Alan Shore (97th)|
|1991||Edwin Michell (23rd)||Phil Kavanagh (61st)||Paul Gibbs (68th)||Darryl Stuart (72nd)|
|1993||Paul Gibbs (13th)||Peter Vizzard (28th)||John Wallington (45th)||Suze McKenzie (93rd)|
|1995||Paul Gibbs (19th)||Edwin Michell (43rd)||Sean Kavanagh (44th)||Kiff Saunders (45th)|
|1997||Paul Gibbs (11th)||Sean Kavanagh (33rd)||Kiff Saunders (39th)||Phil Kavanagh (74th)|
|1999||Danny Galbraith (12th)||Paul Gibbs (35th)||Sean Kavanagh (51st)|
|2002||Paul Gibbs (4th)||Edwin Michell (53rd)||Gary Pask (88th)|
|2004||Paul Gibbs (3rd)||Sean Kavanagh (15th)||Edwin Michell (42nd)|
|2006||Paul Gibbs (18th)||Edwin Michell (31st)||Sean Kavanagh (36th)||Andrew Robertson (44th)|
|2008||Paul Gibbs (43rd)||Sean Kavanagh (49th)||Les Springett (72nd)|
|2010||Paul Gibbs (35th)||Edwin Michell (67th)||Peter Wright (103rd)|
|2012||Matthew Scaife (10th)||Andrew Robertson (55th)||Peter Wright (87th)|
|2016||Matthew Scaife (30th)||Nicola Scaife (41st)||Peter Wright (54th)|
|2018||Nicola Scaife (9th)||Matthew Scaife (15th)||Andrew Robertson (23rd)||Sean Kavanagh (28th)|