Like any eight-year-old, Adam Barrow was stoked to be given a brand new bicycle for his birthday. With his mum’s blessing the Canowindra hometown boy slammed the door and headed out for an adventure on two wheels.
But, as is often the case, life had other plans.
“I was out riding my new pushie and came hurtling round a corner to find a balloon had landed on the side of the road,” the 46-year-old said. “I instantly forgot about the bike.
“I told the crew it was my birthday and they chucked me into the basket and I went for a balloon flight on my eighth birthday. I was instantly hooked.”
Hours later the excited lad returned home – to a worried mother – with a fire in his belly for ballooning.
Fast forward almost four decades, and the Melbourne IT manager admits that the sport of ballooning is in his blood.
“I am absolutely passionate about the sport, but it is one of those things you become completely obsessed by,” he said. “I’ve taken lots of people flying and you only get two reactions. The first is when people say ‘that was really fantastic, I enjoyed it, but I don’t need to do it again.’ And the second reaction is ‘that’s the best thing I have ever done in my life and I have to take this up’.”
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Adam is excited to return home for the Canowindra International Balloon Challenge, on April 21-29.
It’s like standing still and just watching the earth move past ... not really flying, more like floating.”Balloon pilot Adam Barrow
Each year the skies above Canowindra come alive with the roar of the burners and visual spectacular provided when mass hot air balloons take flight in competition, joy and commercial flying.
The festival is something which Adam believes should be on everyone’s bucket list.
“This is the largest ballooning event in Australia,” he said. “Amazingly, it is run by more than 300 volunteers.
“You will never see anything like this, it is almost impossible to explain. When you see 38 balloons flying together, all taking off from the same place, flying in close proximity, all trying to get to the same target. Well, the size, the colour, the noise, the countryside … get out and enjoy it, see something incredible.
“The best way to describe a balloon flight to someone who has never flown is to use a phrase my wife uses,” Adam said. “She says it’s like standing still and just watching the earth move past underneath you. It is like someone is turning a crank wheel and the scenery moves past you, because there is no sensation of movement in the basket.
“It is a very surreal experience because you almost pop up into the air. It’s not really flying, it’s more like floating.”
- Canowindra International Balloon Challenge will run from April 21-29. Visit www.canowindrachallenge.org.au for information on the balloons, other events and accommodation.