Great Texas Balloon Race moves from Gregg Co. airport due to security, space limitations

Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 3:02 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 31, 2021 at 9:05 PM CST
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - For the first time in over thirty years the Great Texas Balloon Race will be held in the city limits of Longview in 2022. And race founder Bill Bussey is pretty uplifted about the new location at the Longview Convention Complex.

When it started, Bill Bussey never dreamed the race would go on this long.

“Back in the day, 1978, did you ever think this would happen?” I asked Bussey.

“Well, in 1978 I thought that would be the end of it completely. Just one race,” Bussey said.

However, in 2022 it will be number 45, and most of them were at Regional Airport in Gregg County. In 2021 there were no events, but pilot meetings were held at Maude Cobb.

“Well, we got such a solid positive response from the community, that we’re moving back in permanently to that area, and so we’re planning that out. And so we’re very excited,” Bussey said.

The response was because all flights were over the city limits. Holiday glows have been held behind Maude Cobb for several years already. And the site is closer to hotels where race participants will be staying.

“The piots like this a whole lot, and our sponsor likes this a whole bunch because everything is in one place,” Bussey said.

Bussey says holding a race at an airport has issues with security and more.

“With the expansion and the success of the Gregg County Airport we were losing acreage. And so I think it was time or we were going to be forced to move,” Bussey said.

And the myriad of tents, some air conditioned, won’t have to be set up.

“We have a kid’s land that has a chain link fence so we can keep the children safe. Everything seems to be working, and we’re pleasantly surprised,” Bussey said.

And Bussey believes the oldest form of manned flight has a future in the city of Longview.

The Great Texas Balloon Race will be held on June 17-19 in 2022, and will play host to nearly eighty hot air balloons.

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