WebXtra: Ready, set...take off!

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - 62 pilots scrambled out from the morning brief at Maude Cobb Activity Center to gage the wind and find the best spot to take off from. Soon airborne on a west wind, the sky was dotted with balloons, all trying to drop markers on two specified targets in the flight path.

"Although you can navigate, you can't steer," said David Hoover, pilot of Sunrise Too. "You have to use wind currents that are available at different altitudes to change your direction."

I went up with pilot John Cavin in the familiar Purple People Eater. For many pilots, it's experience that  tells them when to climb or drop. The common phrase they use is, "seeing the wind."

"You've got to have a good knowledge of what the winds are doing in the mornings," said Cavin. "Finding the exact spot to take off is very important."

Round two of the target shoot begins Saturday morning around 7 at the East Texas airport.

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