Competition

Competitive Hot Air Ballooning

What is it?

Not unlike other sports, Hot Air Balloonists there are those who would like to compete to test their skill and ability in handling their aircraft. Competitions are arranged and participating pilots attempt to successfully accomplish a variety of tasks. Each flight, of each competition, may present the pilot with a variety of challenges involving time, distance and accuracy. Winners are determined as those who come closest to a target with the drop of a marker.

Over the years, a number of tasks have been developed that test piloting skills and, used solely or in combination, are presented to the pilot under a variety of flight conditions. The challenge is to understand what is required to complete (score on a goal) the given task(s) and to use the available conditions to the best advantage to do so. Generally, there are two types of goals, a Judge Declared Goal and a Pilot Declared Goal. Tasks often include combinations of both.The pilot is given a predetermined goal and must fly to it from a given minimum distance. Observers are trained by the CBA to carry out their task effectively. A basic skills course for observers is occasionally offered by CBA. A copy of the course can be found here.

Observers are ranked according to the level of events for which they have observed. Observers may represent their country at international events. For more information on observer ranking, consult the Canadian Observers Ranking Program document. The pilot chooses a goal and must fly to it from a given minimum distance.combination of the above two, where the pilot chooses his or her goal during flight, and records that choice, with a map grid reference, on the marker dropped at the first task.

Although seemingly simple in description, these tasks, used in multiple combination under a variety of flight conditions, can be very difficult to accomplish. Adding limitations of time, target and minimum/maximum distances, create all the more of a challenge.

Tasks are normally worth 1000 points, with that score being awarded to the competitor whose marker is closest to the target. Points are awarded to all competitors who fly the task and their scores are calculated on the relational distance of their respective markers from the target.

 

The Canadian Hot Air Balloon Championship

The Canadian Hot Air Balloon Championship is an event in which Canadian pilots test their skills in competition for the Trumpeter Swan Trophy and the title of Canadian Hot Air Balloon Champion. It is also the major stepping stone for participation in higher levels of competition such on the world stage.

Officials are very important in hot air balloon competitions to ensure fairness. While less common since the advent of GPS, certain events still use observers who are assigned to each pilot for each flight. They travel with the pilot’s ground crew to observe and make record of the launch, goal and landing co-ordinates. They also record any infractions made upon the competition rules. Pilots can certainly be awarded penalty points – a first place standing can be easily lost with a single, simple error in judgment!

Observers are trained by the CBA to carry out their task effectively. A basic skills course for observers is occasionally offered by CBA. A copy of the course can be found here.

Observers are ranked according to the level of events for which they have observed. Observers may represent their country at international events. For more information on observer ranking, consult the Canadian Observers Ranking Program document.