GREGG COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Saturday morning the balloons did not fly over East Texas Regional Airport. Great Texas Balloon Race officials deemed the winds were too high for a safe flight. But officials say that shouldn’t affect Saturday evening’s events.
There was a pretty big crowd that gathered at East Texas Regional Airport, but they didn’t see hot air balloons in the air. According to Great Texas Balloon Race Founder Bill Bussey layers of winds aloft were:
“Getting faster and faster and faster, and that creates a wind shear. So when the bottom for the balloon is in the slower air and the top gets in the faster air the balloon has a tendency to go into the shape of a question mark, and that’s quite dangerous,” Bussey explained.
He says balloons can lose hot air and their lift.
About a dozen pilots set up their balloons anyway since several hundred people showed up to see the race.
“We’re doing that for the audience to help them out a little bit,” Bussey said.
And there were many pictures taken even though the balloons didn’t leave the ground, although I did on a forklift crane used at the race to set up the double-decker stage. You know, just for a better look around.
One of the pilots who set up his balloon after the cancellation was Andrew Holley.
“It’s just one of those mornings that, even though it looks fabulous down here, it really wouldn’t be safe,” Holley stated.
He’s not from around these parts.
“I thought you were from Dallas from the accent,” I observed.
“Just east of Dallas by about 4,000 miles,” Holley laughed.
He came a long way to take part in the race and to add something new to the glow.
“Billy invited me over to coordinate the night glow, which we did last night. And that went really well so we’re doing it again tonight. We’re looking forward to that because I think the crowd is going to be really big tonight,” Holley revealed.
In the past, there was a countdown and pilots would burn. This time Holley will coordinate via radio to the pilots who will glow in rhythm to the music.
‘It’s new, it’s interesting, it’s fun; we’ve been doing it for about five years back home, and it’s very, very effective. From the stage last night it looked fantastic,” Holley said.
Bussey came up with the balloon glow about four decades ago, and he figured it was about time for an upgrade.
The gates at East Texas Regional Airport in Gregg County opened at 4 pm for Saturday night’s glow. There have been record-breaking ticket sales so they say to be patient while parking.