Pilots come back year after year from all over the country to participate in the Great Texas Balloon Race, but one pilot has been a familiar face since the beginning of the event.
Every July, pilots from all over the country come to the race, and one pilot has made the trip every year for 28 years. Sam Edwards, 70, has never missed a race.
"We've been coming since 1977 and I hope to keep coming. I'm not quitting anytime soon," says Edwards.
He's flown in 26 national championships and three world championships, but says his favorite event is in East Texas.
"We like to come up to East Texas where we find nice friendly people. Folks seem to like us, especially during the glow and the kids go wild getting the balloon cards and stuff," Sam says.
His balloon, Texas Twist, is one of the most recognized at each year's race, and he's become a fan favorite with his homespun charm.
"When I was a kid I sailed sailboats, and this is kind of like sailing you can't tack. You go with the winds and go where they take you," says Edwards.
He doesn't fly for money or fame, but for a much simpler reason.
"Actually we feel that it keeps you younger. You're doing something rather than just sitting around on the couch or something. I'm going to keep going as long as I can," he says.
As long as there is a Great Texas Balloon Race, Sam Edwards says he will be there.
Sam's crew chief is his wife, Jean, and he has a daughter who's also a competitive pilot.