With the success of commercial ballooning operations in capturing the attention of the media and public few people are aware to there is any such thing as Sport Ballooning but there are as many aspects of sport ballooning as there are balloonists.
Sport Ballooning activities can be divided into 4 broad categories which shade gradually into each other.
Recreational ballooning is what most sport balloonists do most of the time. Go off with a few friends and fly without any formal agenda, a sort of aerial ramble combined with a drive in the country.
Recreational ballooning takes place all over Australia, usually out of the cities in the open countryside and usually on weekends though some lucky souls who live in, or close to the countryside get to fly mornings or afternoons during the week.
Club balloon meets and Balloon Fiestas provide a more structured social non-competitive extension of individual recreational flights.
When this is combined with competition task flying in Club or National Championships the sport gradually eases into the Competition category.
The aims and details of competitive flying are well covered in the Competition section. Needless to say competition events are designed as a test of flying skills and shade from the very informal level of the Club meet to the seriousness of a National, Regional or World Championship.
There are some aspects of piloting skill and flight planning tested in competition flying that find another outlet in the world of Adventure Flying.
Adventure flying combines the technical skills required for Competition and technical flights with the shear beauty and pleasure of a simple recreational flight.
Adventure flying requires a little more flight planning and preparation than a normal pleasure flight. If the objective is to over-fly a valley, mountain range or large lake the balloon crew must usually be prepared to be be aloft for several hours and a retrieve that may take the rest of the day.
The aim is to do something different see something new and unusual that would not happen in a normal morning's pleasure flight in familiar territory.
At the extreme end of adventure flying are the record breaking Technical flights involving even more planning and organisation.
Technical flights usually involve some sort of record breaking, trying to be the furthest, fastest or highest for your category of balloon.
For more information on the technical aspects of ballooning the ABF Pilot Training Manual is now on-line as well as many other documents (registered ABF members only).