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Favorable winds lead to wild scoring day for Great Texas Balloon Race competitors

Published: Jun. 18, 2022 at 12:30 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 18, 2022 at 6:43 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - Extremely favorable winds made for a wild scoring day for numerous pilots over East Texas skies Saturday morning.

The second day of competition in the Great Texas Balloon Race turned into a scramble in which pilots seemingly could not miss the targets, setting up an exciting finale.

From the morning briefing, pilots scrambled out with the immediate strategy of positioning.

“The temperature inversions near the surface areas are what makes you able to steer that aircraft and that balloon because all we can do is go up and down,” said Chris Cliver, the owner of the Happy Hour balloon. “The winds are always subject to change quickly as the Earth heats from the sun. We want to get out there as quickly as possible and make a decision while we still have some steering.”

What came next was a flurry of scoring and an entertaining show for the crowds.

“It’s just the beauty. Watching it come over the horizon. I don’t know it’s just peaceful,” said one race fan.

“You can see a mound of baggies on top of the center X. So you know It’s going to be a tough day. Day 2, some people will break away,” said Zerek Welz, pilot of the balloon Guilty.

Dozens of pilots hit the targets laid out in the primary zone near Pine Tree schools, with three of them hitting the duck drop, a $5,000 shared pot.

“With everyone scoring well, it will make a big difference with moving people up,” Welz said.

The result led to 20 to 25 pilots all having a chance to take first place with a good showing in Sunday’s final competition.

The final pilot briefing will be at 6 a.m. Sunday morning at the Maude Cobb Activity Center.

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