First women’s hot air balloon championship a soaring success

The first official Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Women’s hot air balloon championship saw hundreds of attendees and no fewer than 39 female pilots taking part.

It was held between September 8 to 13 in Leszno, Poland. Nicola Scaife from Australia was the winner of this first category event. She piloted her Kavanagh EX-60, equipped with oziTarget navigation, to the top of the winners table. In total, she scored 12,489 points across five hot air balloon flights, during which she successfully completed 16 tasks. Competition was fierce with a median of just six or seven meters separating the leaders from the last-placed competitors in the field.

In second place was Elisabeth Kindermann from Austria in her Cameron GP-70, and third was Agne Simonaviciute from Lithuania. They scored 12,401 and 11,362 points respectively.

Scaife led from an early stage, but Kindermann flew well too and, by the end of the competition, she was closing the gap, but she just could not catch the Australian. Overall, the event went smoothly, but Saturday morning’s flight had to be cancelled due to fog.

Scaife runs a ballooning firm in Australia offering flights in New South Wales. Balloons pass over Hunter Valley, Camden Valley, Mudgee and the Hawkesbury. In addition, Scaife arranges and hosts a local balloon fiesta that includes competitive ballooning.

In May 2014, Scaife also came fourth in the 19th Australian National Championships. Once again, she was piloting her EX-60 racing balloon on that occasion.

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