Hot air balloon pilot, Georgia Croft, is excited to show High Country visitors the incredible views from her brand new workplace, high above the scenic landscape and rolling hills of Mansfield and Mt Buller.
At 24, she is one of only five female hot air balloon pilots in Australia, finding a new passion, and a new career, after working as ground crew for her friend at a national hot air ballooning competition. She was hooked, and immediately swapped her undergraduate studies in Anthropology to focus instead on meteorology and microclimates, the art of navigation and the principles of aeronautics.
Joining Global Ballooning Australia, Georgia steadily accumulated her 75 flying hours, and made her debut in the competition circuit. Two years ago she was invited to compete in the 4th Women's World Hot Air Balloon Championships in Poland in 2020 – though, as with many modern-day stories, the pandemic put a temporary halt on those plans.
This year she established Global Ballooning’s latest location in Mansfield in Victoria’s High
Country, one of the most flyable regions in Australia due to its topography and generally
calm conditions. Global Ballooning owner Kiff Saunders needed little encouragement as founder 27 years ago of the Mansfield Balloon Festival.
Saunders describes Georgia as “an incredibly skilled pilot, with a strong operations background, who has all it takes to get Mansfield off the ground! Her professionalism, the way she prepares and how she flies, makes her the perfect resident pilot in command. Plus she is great at dodging farmers’ crops, so she is off to a good start”.
Georgia adds that “flying in Mansfield feels like turning back the clock to old-school ballooning - in the sky, it feels like it’s just me and my balloon, at the whim of the wind, creeping over the hills! I also need to recognise my ground crew who are often strategically (or frantically) navigating dirt tracks, farm gates and cattle”.
“I also love getting amongst the community, sharing my love of this ancient form of aviation with the younger generations. When kids return to school after lockdown, I really hope to visit the school and tether the balloon for a bit of fun, and of course, talk up the world’s coolest job!”, she said.
Georgia hopes that one day soon she will get her chance again to test her skills against the world’s best pilots, but for now she is happy sharing her love of flying with adventure tourists to Mansfield and seeing the look of awe on their faces at 1000 feet.
Flights are available at www.globalballooning.com.au/mansfield
About Global Ballooning Australia (GBA):
● Award-winning, largest hot air balloon operator in Victoria, operating since 1992.
● Sunrise & Afternoon flights available from May to September.
● Sunrise flights available from October to April.
● Balloon sizes vary - baskets can hold 2, 4 and up to 8 passengers.
● GBA also offer balloon flights over Melbourne and Yarra Valley.
by Georgia Croft