It was down to business on Tuesday for pilots competing in this year’s Canowindra International Balloon Challenge, with organisers setting a trio of tasks on the opening morning.
Pilots were required to drop markers at a target near the intersection of the Cargo Road and Canowindra Road, a target at the Canowindra Ovals and then enter an electronic marker with a logger at provided GPS coordinates.
Launch was about 7.30am near Elonera, a property a few kilometres out on the Cargo Road.
Canowindra product Adam Barrow made an impressive start to his campaign, recording 2433 points which placed him second behind early leader Clement Seigot from France.
Steve Campbell is running fourth with 2234 points while Anton Kerr is tenth on 1147.
For Barrow the morning was especially thrilling, launching first from the field in a competition balloon he made it at his home in Melbourne.
Barrow, 45, has been supporting Canowindra’s balloon events for the past 35 years. He says he fell in love with the sport when he took his first flight at the age of eight.
“I grew up in Canowindra. I had my first flight on my eighth birthday and I remember taking off and being surprised I was in the air and then looking down and thinking how cool’s this,” Adam Barrow said before speaking about why he comes home each year.
“It’s so important. It brings so many tourists to town. You need these events to bring people to town.
“The benefit for me also is that my mum’s here and my family all gets together.”
Barrow is flying in the colours of the Canowindra Pythons – blue, black and white – in a balloon he put together in roughly one month prior to the challenge.
During the early 2000s he developed a desire to construct his own balloon and since then he’s made three of his own and mentored several people undertaking the same quests.
“I made my second one in 2004, since then I’ve been a mentor to eight or nine people making balloons,” he said.
The balloon he’s flying during the challenge is slightly different being a competition balloon.
Referred to as “racers,” these balloons are smaller than regular balloons and respond quicker.
“We basically put it all together in about 10 days in my back room at Melbourne.
“I’m really happy with it. It seems to handle really well and it looks great. [Tuesday morning] was awesome. Being the first one to take off in my home town flying a balloon that I made. That’s pretty special.”
Barrow’s balloon will be on display at this Saturday night’s balloon glow.
Flights continue daily at roughly 6.30am and 3.30pm through till next Tuesday.