On these pages we are going to archive
the main and most interresting facts and events
from the 2015 Championships.
The Northam Aero Club will be the host for the 2015 Australian National Ballooning Championships and is delighted to WELCOME visiting balloon crews and pilots from interstate and overseas; as well as members of the public from locations across WA, who 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.
For more information on the different types of tasks please visit our ‘FAQ’ page.
Practice flights will take place, weather permitting, at sunrise on Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 August. The competition flights will take place, weather permitting, each sunrise and in the afternoons, from Monday 31 August to Friday 4 September. At sunrise on Saturday 5th September 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. We will also have daily updates on our NEWS page , along with detail of Radio Stations that will be broadcasting daily flight information.
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 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 whilst you’re 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
NORTHAM and COMPETITION AREA
Northam is located ~ 100km east of Perth, capital of Western Australia. Travel between Perth and Northam is via the Great Eastern Highway, with travel time of approx. 1 hr. The Great Eastern Highway is aligned east west, and is the major road route connecting Western Australia with the eastern States. The Great Eastern Highway Bypasses Northam Town site to the north, with several connecting routes to the Town Centre. Other significant roads in the area connect Northam with Toodyay, Goomalling and York Town sites.
The competition area extends approx... 40 km north/south, and approx.. 30 km east/west. Topography of the area is interesting with the Avon River flowing from south to north, through the Northam Town Centre. The Mortlock River North and Mortlock River South, are to the east of the Avon and flow in opposite directions to join near the Northam Airfield. That river then flows into the Avon, to Toodyay then through the Darling Scarp to Perth and the Indian Ocean as the Swan River. These river systems are seasonal and often produce interesting local micro meteorology.
The competition area extends loosely from Irish Town (north) to Mackie Siding (south), and from Berry Hill (west) to Meenaar (east). 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. Landing options are slightly reduced in the pre-harvest period of the Event, but compensate with spectacular scenery.
There are two Airfields in the competition area, the Northam airfield, and the Skydive Express airfield and DZ at Mackie Siding.
NORTHAM AERO CLUB
The Australian National Balloon Championships in 2015 were granted by the Australian Balloon Federation to Northam Western Australia. The Nationals were previously held in Northam in 1981 and 1984, both being successful Events, with the latter of these two introducing the present Championship format. The Event was organized by the Northam Aero Club in both cases.
The 2015 Championships are again being organized by the Northam Aero Club, with significant assistance from the Shire of Northam and through an Event Committee.
Photo by Sharon Peddles, one of our volunteers during a training flight.
The Northam Aero Club was formed in 1968, and has acquired and developed the existing airfield. The airfield is located at S 31 37.8, E 116 40.9, on the eastern boundary of the Town. The strip is aligned 14/32, has 3489 ft between the gable markers, and has significant additional asphalt runoff areas to the north and south.
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 and 1984. 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.
The Organising Committee have acquired the use of an office structure as a Competition Centre for the Championship, from present time until completion of the Event. The structure has offices and briefing/debriefing facilities and was originally intended for use by an international flying school. The building is powered and air-conditioned, and is located a short distance to the south of the Northam Aero Club rooms. The site has extensive parking available and easily accessible.
The Avon Silos
More photos from the Avon Valley Advocate
The Northam Aero Club and the Championships Committee
gratefully acknowledge the generosity of their Sponsors.