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28th August - 6th September 2015





Northam Nationals Championship Committee

The first formal meeting of the Northam Nationals Championship Committee was held at the new Ops Centre on 25th Jan. 2014. The Committee elected its Chairman, confirmed the Members and resolved to co-opt additional associates as required. The Committee reports directly to the Northam Aero Club.

Chairman: Gren Putland
Committee and Life Member of the NAC. Gren holds a fixed wing licence and airship pilot and Commercial Balloon Licence Examiner status. He held altitude records for small balloons and has officiated at balloon events both in Australia and overseas. Gren was 8th in the 1983 Balloon Championships in Nantes France. He and family have a small farm to the east of Northam.

Member: Co-coordinator; Donna Tasker
Committee Member of the NAC. Donna holds a fixed wing licence and Australian and British Commercial Balloon Licences. She has competed in various ballooning events in the UK and Malaysia and attended The 2013 Saga International Balloon Fiesta as a debriefer. She is now the ABF West Australian Representative.

Member: Michael Clements
Mick is a long term Northam resident, and is a second generation ballooning family. Mick holds a fixed wing licence and balloon PPC, while also being the current President of WABAC and a member of the NAC. He has a small farm located near the Northam Airfield.

Member: President of Northam Aero Club;
Errol Croft

Errol joined the Northam Aero Club in 1993. He held many positions in the Club including Club Captain and Vice President. He holds a Pilot Licence since 1994 with several ratings. He owns a Cessna C172, JXI. He operates a refrigeration and earthwork business in Goomalling near Northam.

Member: Michelle Blackhurst
Michelle has an interest in aviation and completed 5 years in the Air Training Corps where she participated in leadership courses at RAAF Base Pearce based around aircraft recognition, and experienced flights in many of the different aircraft visiting the base. Michelle is also an avid photographer.
Michelle is a long term Northam resident with a passion for her community. Michelle works for Regional Development Australia Wheatbelt and is the Vice President of the Northam Chamber of Commerce. She has two small businesses operating in Northam and lives close to the air field.

Member: Damien Hayes
Damien has been flying since 1990. He grew up in the Avon Valley, home to ballooning in Western Australia, and has been involved with the sport since an early age. He holds Instructors' ratings for both Commercial and Private training and has logged around 2000 hours flying balloons.

Member: Sally Woods
Sally is a resident of Northam with an interest in ballooning. Sally’s background is in business development, currently is a busy mother of two boys, partner to Michael Clements as well as being involved in many community groups She lives on a farm located near the Northam Airfield

Member: Ian Bristow-Stagg
Ian has been involved in aviation since he was born and attended the last Northam Nationals (not that he remembers). He has crewed or flown in balloons in Northam, Barossa Valley, Alice Springs, Cairns and Saga. He is a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer across multiple categories and now lives in Northam with his young family.

Member: Rhiannon Bristow-Stagg
Rhiannon has a special interest in making science fun and meaningful for the community and will be coordinating some flight discovery activities. She combines raising a young family with a range of volunteer roles in the Avon Valley, and runs her own communications business locally. Her first flight in a hot air balloon was in Nuriootpa in 2001.

Member: Claude Meunier
Claude is the Web Master of the site ''. He is a Life Member and ex-President of the Northam Aero Club. Claude holds many records for aircraft and helicopter speed and duration flights. He has flown solo around the world. He is the founder of the International Association: The Earthrounders. Claude farms a property east of the Northam Airfield.


Operations Team

The Operations Team for the Northam Nationals 2015 have been proposed and endorsed by the ABF, as part of the bid process. The team chosen are well experienced in National and International Competition. All have been at the forefront of International competition developments


Director: Gary Lacey
Gary is Canberra based and works in the field of pharmaceutical research. He is both private and commercial balloon pilot, operating generally in the ACT. He has been seconded to numerous International Events to oversee debriefing procedures, and has been the Director of recent Australian National Championships. Gary leads his well qualified operation team to conduct the Event.

Deputy Director: Garry Lockyer
"The Canadian". Garry is a computer and IT expert. Having recently retired from his favourite sport of ice hockey, he now concentrates on his other passion of balloon flying. He is the Canadian representative on the CIA (Comité International d'Aérostation) and has been most active in the development of the International Sporting Code standards. Garry is well acquainted with Australian ballooning conditions, having officiated at various National Events.

Chief Scorer: Steve Ireland
Steve is a private and commercial balloon pilot of many years standing. He has been the Australian CIA (Comité International d'Aérostation) representative for the last five years. He has officiated at numerous National and International events as chief scorer, and is regularly seconded to world Chamionships. A resident of Canberra he flies there regularly, including the Canberra Whale.

Deputy Scorer: Martin Tregale:
Martin is the Secretary/Treasurer of the Australian Ballooning Federation (ABF) and President of the Ballooning Association of Victoria (BAV). He is a recent convert to the sport of ballooning, does most of his flying in Victoria, and has become involved at all levels of the sport. He has officiated at two World Championships in the areas of operations and scoring.

Safety Officer: John Wallington
John is a balloon and airship pilot with extraordinary achievements.He has been Australian Champion and holder of significant ballooning records. His skill were put to use in the first across Australia flight with Dick Smith. John has managed ballooning interests throughout Australia and overseas. He has been intimately involved in the annual Canberra Balloon Fiesta.


Other essentials Members of the Team

Meteorologist: Don Whitford
Don is an eminent Meteorologist with specific interest in Sports Aviation. He has taken the role of WX advisor to varied sports at the National level over the last twenty years, with a focus on ballooning. In real life Don often works with the Australian Military. He has recently become re-acquainted with Northam Weather, during a period at Pearce Base.


The Office
25 Jan, 2014


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Latest update : June 4, 2015