Longview to host Hot Air Balloon National Championship - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Longview to host Hot Air Balloon National Championship

Released by The Great Texas Balloon Race:

LONGVIEW, TX - The Balloon Federation of America's Hot Air Competition Division is pleased to announce the selection of Longview, Texas and the Great Texas Balloon Race to host the U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship beginning in 2012 and continuing through 2014. Longview was selected from a field of four locales that had expressed interest in the host role of this prestigious event. The three-year agreement was ratified by both organizations earlier this week.

"The selection of Longview and the GTBR took a great deal of dedicated work by the staffs of both organizations," said Paul Petrehn, Chairman of the BFA HACD, "but we knew going in to expect an excellent bid package from Dr. Bill Bussey and the people of Longview. The GTBR enjoys an outstanding reputation as a top-flight competition event. The opportunity to couple these two events was not to be missed," added Petrehn. "Both pilots and spectators alike will be treated to an unprecedented showing of the very best competition our sport has to offer."

For spectators in East Texas, the BFA U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship presented by Curves and the Great Texas Balloon Race will mean more balloons flying overhead for longer than ever before. A total of 70 or more balloons will color the summer skies above Longview for an entire week, beginning on Monday morning and continuing through the following Sunday. Those pilots will be competing for a total prize purse of $50,000 and the opportunity to go on to represent the U.S. in World Champion competition. The dates for the 2012 event are July 23 – 29th.

Longview's first balloonist and founder of the Great Texas Balloon Race, Dr. Bill Bussey says he can't wait. "We're thrilled with the decision of the BFA on a number of levels," said Bussey. "It validates the many years of hard work of the countless volunteers who have strived to build the Great Texas Balloon Race into one of the best events in the country. This opportunity also allows us to bring to the citizens of Longview and East Texas an even bigger and better show than ever before," he said.

"Of course none of it would be possible without the unparalleled sponsorship of the many fine businesses and service organizations, like out title sponsor Curves International, that support ballooning and the Great Texas Balloon Race year in and year out. It's like the Mercury astronauts used to say, ‘No bucks. No Buck Rogers,'" added Bussey. "This year marks the 33rd  Annual Great Texas Balloon Race and that longevity is testament to the pride of community and quality of life that we enjoy here in Longview and throughout East Texas," Bussey said.

 The selection of Longview as host city for the BFA U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship continues a tradition begun in 1989 wherein the National Championship event is moved around the country every few years.  Previous host cities have included Baton Rouge, LA; Middletown, OH; Columbia, MO; Rantoul, IL; and Anderson, SC. This year, the National Championship is wrapping up an extremely successful 3-year run in Battle Creek, Michigan. Building on that success, Battle Creek and the BFA were able to mount their own successful bid to host the World Hot Air Balloon Championship in 2012, marking the first time the U.S. has hosted that event since the 1980s.

The Balloon Federation of America is the national aerosports club for balloon pilots, crew and enthusiasts.  Membership is open to anyone with an interest in the sport of ballooning. For more information on the BFA log on to www.bfa.net. And to learn more about this year's Great Texas Balloon Race and ongoing plans for the coming U.S. National Championship please visit www.greattexasballoonrace.com

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