History

Modern hot air ballooning in Australia began with the formation of the Aerostat Society by students and staff at the University of Sydney in 1964.

In 1978 the ABF succeeded the Aerostat Society as the prime organisation representing sport balloonists in Australia.

Past Presidents

The first President of the ABF was Eddie Selman who was also the Director of the first two National Championships.

1978 - 1981 Eddie Selman
1981 - 1984 Dale Allen
1984 - 1987 Adrian Clements
1987 - 1991 Ian Tooth
1991 - 1992 Daryl Stuart
1992 - 1993 Kay Turnbull
1993 - 1995 Danny Galbraith
1995 - 1997 Daryl Stuart 
1997 - 1998 Ruth Wilson 
1998 - 2000 Adam Barrow
2000 - 2009 Gary Pask
2009 - 2016 Paul Gibbs

Australian National Champions

The first championship was run at Belconnen ACT in 1978. Bill Watson was the winner of the sole task flown but FAI rules require three tasks over two flights to declare a Championship and a Champion. With only one task flown, a result and champion pilot could not be declared.

The second championship was held in 1979 at Greenthorpe NSW (south of Cowra). This championship had 3 tasks and 4 competitors, with Ruth Wilson being declared the first Australian National Hot Air Ballooning Champion.

1978 Bill Watson Belconnen ACT (Winner but not Champion - see above)
1979 Ruth Wilson Greenthorpe NSW See quote below
1981 Bob Dickson Northam WA  
1982 Peter Vizzard Seppeltsfield SA  
1984 Judy Lynne Northam WA See quote below
1986 Peter Vizzard Seppeltsfield SA  
1988 John Wallington Canowindra NSW See quote below
1990 Phil Kavanagh Benalla VIC See quote below
1992 John Wallington Yanco NSW See quote below
1994 Edwin Michell Mildura VIC  
1996 Paul Gibbs Mildura VIC  See quote below
1998 Paul Gibbs Mildura VIC See quote below
2001 Tim Steiner Mildura VIC  See quote below
2003 Sean Kavanagh Mildura VIC  
2007 Paul Gibbs Benalla VIC See quote below
2009 Paul Gibbs Benalla VIC See quote below
2011 Thomas Dattler Canowindra NSW  

Results

Results of all Australian National Championships to 2003

Winning a National Championship, what it meant to the Champions?

Ruth Wilson, 1979

Roger Meadmore was the sponsor of the event with his Lovely Lady logos and pancakes. Roger presented me with a silver champagne bucket.

1984 Judy Lynne

‘At the time I won the National Championships I was flying a great deal, had a fledgling balloon company, and was delighted to find my flying skills were on a par with the best in Australia. After winning the Championships I felt that I could do anything, and go anywhere, in my little Balloon Works balloon.’

John Wallington, 1988 & 1992

‘Both National Championship wins in 1988 and 1992 have provided real and significant high points in my life. The sense of satisfaction and team euphoria has been incredible. The 1988 championship was my first ever ballooning competition so to win it was a bit of a surprise. The 1992 competition was memorable for the essential contribution of my father and his wind reader, in particular allowing four teams to approach one target from the opposite direction to all other competitors. His contribution to the win was vital and gave him enormous satisfaction only weeks before he became sick and died. To win the Sunrice Championships in”Sunrice”, kindly loaned to me by Ian and Ruth Tooth, was great.

1990 Phil Kavanagh

‘Winning the Nationals in 1990 only meant that my total at the end of the week was a bit more than the next competitor. I cannot bring to mind any of the flights during that week, except for the last one, and I think that’s because I was relieved I hadn’t blown it’.

1996, 1998, 2007, 2009 Paul Gibbs

"When the crew and I won in 1996 it was a great sense of relief. I knew I could do it but it was a question of putting it all together. In 90,92,94, I had placed third, which was consistent".

Paul has since proven equal consistent, but in a higher position. (The Editor).

About the first Nationals by Phil Kavanagh

"The first attempt at a National Championship, was held near Canberra to coincide with the opening of the Belconnen Mall. It was only one event (JDG) and was won by Bill Watson, who was first to the goal, making a competition landing, (there were no markers), about fifty metres or so from the intersection. Bill then dragged his balloon envelope around so it appeared that the wind direction was at 90 degrees to the actual, before any of the other competitors were close enough to see him do it. It worked. Everyone used his balloon as an indicator of the ground wind direction and all went off in the wrong direction."

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