Irish Hot Air Balloon Championship set for Loughrea Hotel and Spa this month

The Irish Hot Air Ballooning Championships will take place at the Loughrea Hotel and Spa from the September 24-29. It is the longest running national ballooning event in the world and the first event was held in 1971 at Newcastle House in Ballymahon, Co Longford.

There will be balloonists from the UK, USA, France, Holland, Belgium, Chile and Ireland. It is a massive spectacle with these huge ancient aircraft flying totally dependant on the wind for direction.

Following hugely successful “meets” last year and in 2014 the international balloonists will fly over the Galway countryside and the Loughrea Hotel and Spa will be the headquarters for the event that now attracts up 40 balloons.

Loughrea will be the base for the balloon launch locations, which will happen every morning subject to favourable flying conditions.

In addition to the launches, the balloonists hope to provide another spectacular Night Glow where they inflate at night to the sound of music in the dark. Some of the balloon teams are planning to visit some of the local schools to demonstrate the balloons to the pupils.

The modern hot air balloon is made up of three main parts: the envelope, the basket, and the burner. The envelope is the colourful “balloon” part and is sewn into many patterns - geometric designs and custom shapes. It is made from heat resistant, rip-stop nylon. It is coated internally with a plastic which helps contain heat. If well maintained, a balloon envelope should last 500 or more flying hours.

The wicker basket is woven with a tight, vertical weave of cane or bamboo and is well suited to resisting entanglement in branches or power-lines.

The heart of the balloon is the burner, usually rigged on a rigid brace over the pilot’s head and controlled by means of a hand valve. Hot air balloons use plain old air as the lifting gas

By heating the air inside the balloon (with blasts from the burner ), the pilot makes that air less dense (lighter ) than the outside air, and the balloon rises. As the internal air cools, the balloon becomes heavier, and descends.

Supermac’s and The Loughrea Hotel and Spa are proud sponsors of the championships.

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