2017 Balloon Challenge: Pilot is hopeful on debut

Canowindra pilot Anton Kerr hopes to use his knowledge of the region's climate to his advantage during the International Balloon Challenge. Photo by Federation Fotos.

Canowindra pilot Anton Kerr hopes to use his knowledge of the region's climate to his advantage during the International Balloon Challenge. Photo by Federation Fotos.

Canowindra hot air balloon pilot Anton Kerr will make his competitive debut in the basket as a primary pilot at this year’s Canowindra International Balloon Challenge.

Kerr has flown the challenge in previous years but when he launches next Tuesday on the first morning of competition it will be game on, he said.

“I have flown in the challenge previously but this is the first time I’m flying competitively,” Anton Kerr said.

“This year it’s competition, game on.

“I have flown in competitions as an assistant but never as the primary pilot in charge. This is my debut.

“I’m pumped, it’s very exciting.”

Based in Canowindra, Kerr hopes to use his knowledge of the local wind patterns to his advantage.

“This is where I fly. It’s my area. I have a bit of local knowledge, hopefully it helps.

“There’s little things that the wind does around here which is unique. There’s a few areas that do a few interesting things,” he said.

Kerr has a decent understanding of who he will be matching up against, despite not flying competitively before, with a number of highly rated pilots set to converge on Canowindra including women’s world champion Nicola Scaife.

“Australia has the current women’s world champion Nicola Scaife, she’ll be very, very hard to beat. There’s some stiff competition coming,” Kerr said.

Each day pilots are set tasks that challenge their decision making and flying ability.

“It’s all about accuracy and using the available winds. There could be three or four different wind directions above us and it’s all about using those to navigate to a target,” Kerr said.

“There can be two or three or four tasks in the morning,” he explained.

“It’s all about how you see the conditions on the morning and decision making in the balloon. If you make one wrong decision early, that can influence you for the rest of the morning. Then it’s all about your capabilities of flying the balloon and getting it to do what you want it to do.”

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