Hunter Valley Pilot & Two-Time Women's World Ballooning Champion
In 2014 Nicola took out the inaugural Women’s World Ballooning Championship held in Poland. In 2015 she backed up that win with a first place at the Canowindra International Balloon Challenge and second place in the Australian Ballooning Championship competing against some of the biggest names in the sport. When she’s not forging an impressive name for herself in the world of competition ballooning, Nicola enjoys sharing her love of flying with her passengers on Balloon Aloft Hunter Valley sunrise flights.
When did you get started in ballooning?
10 years ago, in Canberra.
How did you become involved in ballooning?
I was fortunate to secure my first job with a ballooning company the morning of my first ever balloon flight. I was a passenger and loved the experience so much I asked for a job! I started out as retrieve crew and also working in the office and then worked my way to becoming a pilot.
Describe a day on the job.
My day starts when my alarm goes off at crazy o’clock, usually about 2 hours before sunrise. That's the only time it really feels like a job! I get up and check the weather then head to Peterson House to greet and sign in my passengers for the morning. Here we do another weather check, choose our launch site and plan the flight. We fly for around an hour then pack up and head back for a champagne breakfast where I get to chat with my passengers more. Then there is some paperwork to be done and I head home for a nap (an essential and great perk of the job!).
What is your greatest career accomplishment?
Winning the Women’s World hot air ballooning championships in Poland in 2014. Being ranked the #2 balloon pilot in Australia (male and female).
What is your favourite ballooning memory?
My husband and I took our son, Hugo, on his first balloon flight when we were in Dubai recently at the World Air Games. We launched from The Palm flew out over the Arabian Gulf and then flew inland towards the desert. It was an incredible flight!
What is your funniest ballooning story?
We used to have a country music festival in the Hunter Valley. Flying over the camping area in the mornings always made for an entertaining flight for my passengers. With people sleeping in very odd places and in various states of dress!
When you’re not ballooning where would we find you?
Ballooning is also my hobby so I am always ballooning! Otherwise I’ll be at home with my 2-year-old son, Hugo, swimming or bushwalking.