One of the most popular events during the Canowindra International Balloon Challenge is the Key Grab. The event is one of the most spectacular for the crowd and one of the most difficult for the balloon pilots. The aim is to fly in and try to pluck a large key from the top of a flagpole. Pilots launch their balloons from a site of their choosing, which has to be a minimum distance away from the key, with the distance declared by the flight director according to wind conditions on the day.
The key represents a major cash prize for the first balloon to swoop in and collect it. Spectators are welcome to gather outside a safety exclusion zone set around the flagpole and get to watch the fleet approach and make their attempts to claim the highly coveted key.
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This Key Grab is not part of the weekly point score that pilots are competing for but is a separate event open to all balloons both competitive and non-competitive. The closest attempt in 2018 was a 12 centimetre miss, so the crowd will be waiting in anticipation to see if anyone can claim the prize this year.