Competitive hot air ballooning embraces technology

The sporting world of hot air ballooning will soon be assisted by technology, as a recently produced app can now be utilised by balloon enthusiasts around the world.

Sean Kavanagh, a developer from Australia, released an app called OziTarget back in 2013, but struck a problem when tablets at that time were found to be unsuitable for the conditions of hot air balloon flights during competitions.

A tablet in 2013 didn’t have the capacity to remain charged for the duration of the flight, as well as for pre-flight checks and post-flight analysis. Today, the latest tablets have improved battery life and better screen brightness, enabling pilots to see the screen at night.

Kavanagh is a programmer and works for the company which his parents founded during the 1970s, Kavanagh Balloons, a Sydney-based company. Although the world of hot air balloons has previously escaped the grasp of modern technology, the app will be an asset during competitions, when pilots need to plan routes and check wind speeds at various altitudes.

The self-taught programmer has been flying balloons in competitions since 1994, but had become frustrated at the lack of technological assistance for pilots. Following extensive research and investigation, he came up with the app, which he uses alongside a Microsoft Surface.

Kavanagh believes that the use of technology will improve the sport of hot air ballooning, although pilots will still need to have the required knowledge and experience to accurately fly the balloon and understand the weather conditions without technological assistance.

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