KZN duo to represent SA at Hot Air World Champs

2013-07-10 00:00

DRAKENSBERG team David MacGregor and Danie Honiball are the national hot air balloon champions for 2013.

The duo from Drakensberg Ballooning came out tops in the National Hot Air Balloon Championship held at Parys recently. Drakensberg Ballooning is the only hot air ballooning company in KZN.

Officially, teams can’t be entered in the competition, so MacGregor was named champion, but it was because of excellent team work between MacGregor and Honiball that they emerged victorious.

Honiball did the flying while MacGregor navigated. After coming second in last year’s competition, the team maintained a lead after winning five of the six tasks on the first day. Honiball, the second cousin to former rugby player Henry Honiball, feels that good decision-making was the key to their success.

“It feels good to be the champions. We didn’t really do anything different from last year; we just went back and stuck to the basics,” Honiball told The Witness.

MacGregor agreed. “It feels unreal [being the champions]. We didn’t change anything from what we did last year. We went back with more determination,” he said.

Tasks in the championship included dropping markers and flying towards people at specific points.

“We could launch the balloon from anywhere to reach the markers. David was very good with making those decisions. As for the flying, it takes skill to reach specific points, because at different levels the air goes in different directions,” said Honiball.

Honiball has been flying hot air balloons for five years and MacGregor for eight. Their combined experience produced enough skill to be crowned the champions. They won three trophies — first SA pilot, nearest marker drop to a target and national champion.

The duo will represent South Africa in Brazil at the world championship next year.

“We are really looking forward to it,” said Honiball. “We will definitely make a plan to get there.”

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