LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - It has been well over a year since hot air balloons have filled the skies over Longview, but, weather permitting, it will happen again this week. And it’s not the Great Texas Balloon Race, but part of a worldwide event specifically designed for “Lifting Spirits Around the World”.
Great Texas Balloon Race Founder Bill Bussey, and other pilots, just had to jump in the basket when they heard about the Lifting Spirits Around the World event.
“We’ve been anxious to fly. We want to fly competitively, but most of the events in the U.S. have been canceled this year, and we’re participating with a group in Albuquerque and now this idea is called worldwide. That everybody’s supposed to fly Saturday and Sunday, this coming Saturday and Sunday,” Bussey said.
Bussey points out that this is not his idea, he just made sure the pilots he knows know. He thinks it’s aptly named because it’s designed to:
“Lift the spirits of everybody. Everybody’s kind of down with this virus, and it’s dedicated to the front line workers,” Bussey said.
From first responders to hospital workers, but, he says it’s for anyone who needs a smile.
“You look up around Longview, you want to see balloons. Everything’s all right if you see balloons. And everything’s all right with us when we have them in the air, too. I assure you of that,” Bussey said.
So he decided in Longview anyway, they are going to fly Friday, too. Just like in that race so many East Texans have attended. But there will be about half the balloons of the race, around:
“Twenty, 22 on Saturday; we’ll have 10 or 12 on Friday; maybe 15, 18 on Sunday,” Bussey said.
A pretty good show, manned by local pilots, and some from out of state.
“We won’t tell where we’re going to launch because we don’t want a crowd to congregate. They can look up and follow the balloons, but we want to maintain safety, and do the right thing is what we’re trying to do,” Bussey said.
So between 7:20 a.m. and 8 a.m. Friday through Sunday if you look up in Longview you should see a couple dozen socially distanced balloons spreading smiles as they go, and bringing the race to you.
The pilots will be flying sanctioned tasks, which means it will be a competition. Pilots will earn points which will count towards the National Championships the next time they are held.