Up, up, al­most away

Hills Gazette - - NEWS -

THERE are just three weeks un­til the Avon Val­ley will be filled with hot air bal­loons for the week-long Na­tional Bal­loon­ing Cham­pi­onships hosted by Northam Aero Club.

More than 30 in­ter­na­tional, in­ter­state and lo­cal hot air bal­loon pi­lots will de­scend on Northam in the first week of Septem­ber to test their fly­ing skills at vary­ing winds and al­ti­tudes.

The family fi­esta on the first Satur­day of the event will open at 4pm with a stage show, bal­loon dis­cov­ery zone, car­ni­val rides and games, along with mar­ket stalls and show bags.

Not to be missed later that day is the bal­loon glow with mu­si­cal ac­com­pa­ni­ment and a fire­works fi­nale at Henry Street Oval.

Spec­ta­tors are in­vited to see a kalei­do­scope of brightly coloured bal­loons soar over hill and dale at dawn un­til 9am and again in the af­ter­noons. An­other high­light will be the key grab com­pe­ti­tion on the last day, when pi­lots leave the air­field at first light to fly from point to point, col­lect­ing foam ‘keys’ from the ends of 10m poles.

The cham­pi­onships course and the best view­ing spots will vary ac­cord­ing to wind con­di­tions.

Spec­ta­tors are asked to visit Northam Na­tion­als on Face­book for the lat­est flight de­tails and learn more about com­peti­tors via www. northam­na­tion­als.com.

Among the chal­lengers to de­fend­ing cham­pion Matt Scaife in ‘Felix’ will be a la­dy­bug bal­loon flown by pi­lot Claire O’Brien, a soc­cer ball pi­loted by Ed Saun­ders and Rus­sia’s An­drei Kulkov in Hola.

The 2017 Na­tional Bal­loon­ing Cham­pi­onships are sup­ported by the State Govern­ment through Tourism WA’s re­gional events pro­gram, Northam Shire and other lo­cal spon­sors.

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