Hot air balloon pilot Richard Sabin of Longview glides toward his first target in his balloon, "Sea Breeze."
The U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship is on as scheduled Thursday in Longview after being grounded for the past two days due to poor weather conditions. The pilots are now trying to rapidly complete the tasks of the competition.
When Mother Nature interferes in a multi-day ballooning competition, the stakes get higher. The pilots must complete tasks each day of the competition in order to rack up a higher score. When there are fewer days to fly, there are fewer tasks to complete. This makes the remaining tasks all the more important.
A week of hot air balloon events will draw dozens of racers and enthusiasts to East Texas this week. The colorful balloons are being spotted over Longview today.
The events include the 36th Great Texas Balloon Race and, in its second year in Longview, the U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship. According to the Longview News Journal, 76 pilots are set to compete in both races this week and that will mean an infusion of tourism dollars for East Texas cities.