Australia Hosts the 5th FAI Women’s World Hot Air Ballooning Championship

16th August 2023
By ABF - Ruth E. Wilson

The Northam Shire in Western Australia will host the 5th Women’s World Hot Air Ballooning Championship from 4 – 9 September this year.  Teams from thirteen countries will descend on the township of Northam to compete for the title of World Champion.

Australia will be represented by Nicola Scaife, who won the inaugural and second Women’s Worlds, Georgia Croft, Alana Kahl, Scarlett Saunders and Josie White.  The remaining pilots will come from Austria, Brazil, Germany, Lithuania, United Kingdom, Hungry, Japan, Latvia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland and the United States of America.

World competition ballooning has undergone huge changes over the years. For those first 30 years pilots were permitted to carry only a paper map and compass in their baskets as they worked to find various wind directions at various altitudes to find the competition targets. Carrying a radio brought heavy penalties. The thinking of officials was that using a radio was receiving help from the ground and considered cheating.

Change moved slowly. Radio use in the basket was approved. Next came the use of a GPS. Talk with a competition pilot today. They carry a GPS, UHF & VHF radios, iPad, Loggers, Computer for Balloon Live App and mobile phone.  The electronic world sits actively now in a balloon basket, particularly in ballooning competition.

Competition tasks have evolved also with targets now being chased both on the ground and in the air.  Competition points are awarded to each pilot aligned with their scoring result.  On the final day last of the tasks draw concentrated competitive flying to ensure precious points. The pilot with the highest score is claimed World Champion.

Northam Ballooning Events, the organisers of this prestigious ballooning championship, will host an array of skilled and experienced officials to oversee all aspects of world competition. Competition Director Dr Gary Lacey will be assisted by Les Purfield from the UK. Garry Lockyer (Canada) and Hiromori Soejima (Japan) will be Stewards and from Australia John Wallington Chief Safety Officer, Don Whitford Chief Meteorologist, Steve Ireland Chief Scorer,
Rhonda Pritchard Scorer, Carol and Ian Benning Chief Target Teams, James Robertson in charge of the windsond with Andrew Robertson attending for Technical Support.

The Australian Ballooning Federation will be represented by President Martin Tregale.

At all FAI World Championships, a Jury of 3 FAI Jurors must attend. In Northam those jurors will be Debbie Spaeth USA, Hiromi Furukawa Japan and Ruth Wilson from Australia.

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