Balloon Race Begins In Longview, But Not Without A Few Problems

The Great Texas Balloon Race began this morning, but not without a few problems for the pilots.

KLTV 7's Bob Hallmark has more on how winds made flying a dangerous adventure for pilots, but one pilot couldn't even get off the ground.

Sixty-nine balloon pilots scrambled out for the best position in the "sport and special shape balloon competition," and they were warned that weather could play a factor.

"We have flown in winds before the take off and landing are the two critical stages of course," said Mike Hickey, a pilot from Hot Springs.

The $40,000 to $50,000 balloons are surprisingly delicate.

Rushing to get airborne , Mike discovered a he had another problem besides the wind.

"Sure enough, we had a rip in the very top which is the worst place in the world to have a rip so we put it down, that's a chance you don't would have made us crash."

So, Hickey was grounded for the day.

"We need to do some serious work on that."

But, Hickey remains upbeat in spite of being grounded.

"It's better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground...It's great to be back, I really like Longview and the balloon event here."

He says his balloon will be at the glow tonight.

"We'll be there glowing regardless of whether we fly.

There is still plenty of time to get out there to see the opening ceremonies and sport balloon glow.

That starts at 8:15 pm, and there are several bands playing tonight as well.

Admission is $10.00 today and tomorrow and $2.00 on Sunday.

Weekend passes are 15 dollars and children under 12 get in free when accompanied by an adult.

Bob Hallmark, reporting.