Great Texas Balloon Race Ends - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/13/03-Longview

Great Texas Balloon Race Ends

It was what balloon fans had waited for -- hot air balloons dotting the horizon. Seventy-two balloons went up on the final day in the Key Grab, in which pilots attempt to fly in low on a pole target to score points.

The object is to hit two targets with colored markers, and try to toss a ring on the centerpole for a $9,000 prize. No one got the pole, though some came very close. It's the capper and traditional fan favorite of the event.

The pilots will now pack up and head off the the next race in the next city, and leave balloon fans here looking to next year.

Pilots from all over the country traveled to East Texas for the balloon race, but in the end it was a local man who came away with the top prize. Fifty pilots actually scored enough points over the key drop competition to finish in the money. At an awards ceremony after the race, pilots received prize money starting at $500 up to $2,500 for second place and $5,000 for the top pilot, Bill Baker of Tyler. Organizers say all tolled, even with uncooperative weather, the 2003 event was a big success.

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