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MODERN HOT AIR BALLOONING

1960: The Rebirth of Balloon Flight

People became more interested in powered flight with the invention of the aeroplane in 1903, and ballooning became less popular and faded into the background.

The revival of the hot air balloon was pioneered by an American, Ed Yost. He was commissioned by the American Air Force to come up with a lighter than air lifting device for military application.  Yost had made tethered flights in 1955 using a balloon made from plastic film and burning kerosene. Ballooning became popular again after Yost made the first free flight of a modern hot air balloon in 1960, he developed the propane burner (resulting in a controllable and economical method of heating air inside the balloon), using light weight fabrics. This was the beginning of the modern hot air balloon which quickly emerged as a new and popular sport around the world.

1977 to present: Ballooning in Northam

Hot air ballooning came to Northam in April 1977 when members of the Hong Kong Balloon and Airship Club were looking for a location to set altitude, distance and duration records for hot air balloons. Northam was chosen as their preferred site to set these records because it was within close proximity to Perth, one of their regular flight destinations and offered a sheltered valley perfect for ballooning with open farmland being ideal for safe landings.

In August 1980 the Western Australian Balloon and Airship Club (WABAC) was created. WABAC along with the Northam Aero Club jointly organised to host two National Ballooning Championships at Northam in 1981 and 1984. The National Ballooning Championships were then hosted again in Northam in 2015 and 2017.

Ballooning Records

Since 1977 there has been a number of significant hot air ballooning records which were achieved at or from Northam.

The Shire of Northam would like to acknowledge the achievement of the hot air ballooning pilots listed below:

Aug 1977

Geoff Green

World altitude AX-6

Charlie O-56

Oct 1978

Sabu Ichiyoshi

Japan altitude, distance

Cathay III O-84

Oct 1978

Ron Taaffe

Australian altitude

Shell O-56

Aug 1982

Ron Taaffe

World altitude, distance, duration

San Miguel airship D-38

Aug 1980

Paul Gianniotis

World distance AX-4

Sprite O-31

Aug 1980

Paul Gianniotis

Australian duration AX-4

Sprite O-31

Aug 1980

Gren Putland

Australian altitude AX-4

Sprite O-31

Sept 1980

Geoff Green

World distance

Sultan III A-140

Adrian Clements

Aug 1980

Ron Taaffe

Australian distance

Charlie O-56

Sept 1982

Geoff Tetlow

Australian duration

San Miguel O-375

June 1994

Michio Kanda

World distance AX10-14

Mambo N-210 D/S

Chikatsu Kakinuma

July 1995

Kei-ichi Kojima

World duration AX-5

N-42 D/S

Sept 1995

Maco Oiwa

World duration AX10-14

Mambo N-210 D/S

Sabu Ichiyosh

Aug 1997

Toshiko Ichiyoshi

World distance, duration womens AX-6

Wombat N-56

Aug 1997

Maco Oiwa

World duration AX-6

Wombat N-56

2001

Steve Fossett

World duration

Solo Spirit R-550

June 2002

Steve Fossett

World distance, duration, RTW speed

Spirit of Freedom R-550

July 2016

Fedor Konyukhov

World distance, RTW speed

Morton R-550

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