Longview vies for national championship balloon event

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email

LONGVIEW,TX (KLTV)- The biggest hot air ballooning event in the nation could soon be coming right here to east Texas.

Longview officials are bidding to host the U-S hot air balloon championships, hosting a weekend conference of selection delegates. Familiar faces from the great Texas balloon race were on hand at a meeting with delegates from the balloon federation of America to pitch Longview as the next venue for the U-S hot air balloon championships.

"I'm pretty excited I think the timing is right I think we've established a history of serious competition," says great Texas balloon race founder Dr. Bill Bussey.

Much like an Olympic bid, the group must convince delegates that Longview is right for the event.

"The great Texas balloon race has one of the few histories that have lasted 25-30 years," says balloon race balloon meister Jim Burk.

And its the success of our hometown event that has delegates looking.

"The great Texas balloon race is very well established and we feel like its a win-win situation for both sides, Longview has a lot to bring to the table a well established venue , flying area, there are hopes of bringing the U-S championships to Longview Texas for 2012-, 13 and 14," said balloon federation of America delegate Paul Petrehn.

"We're going to show them what we can do how we can perform and we'll lay that on the table let them compare it to anybody else," Bussey says.

Everything is taken into consideration, from adequate prep and flight areas to hotels and restaurants.

"They want to take a hard look at us, I think we're going to come out with a very positive result on this bid," says Bussey.

The benefits could be an enormous economic shot in the arm.

"We know we're going to fill up every hotel room in the area we may have to Shreveport some," says great Texas balloon race chairman Richard Lazarus.

The event has been held in Battle Creek Michigan since 2009. The decision will be made in the next 2 weeks, 4 cities including Longview are frontrunner's.

Copyright 2011 KLTV. All rights reserved.