2015 Kentucky Derby Great Balloon Race This past weekend was the 2015 Kentucky Derby Great Balloon Race held in Louisville, Kentucky.
2015 Kentucky Derby Great Balloon Race
This past weekend was the 2015 Kentucky Derby Great Balloon Race held in Louisville, Kentucky.
The event started with a master pilot briefing on Thursday afternoon. This is a mandatory briefing attended by all pilots and the FAA. Twenty-eight balloons were entered in this year’s event.
The first event was to be a glimmer on the waterfront of the Ohio River. A supplemental pilot briefing was held on the field. It was very windy but all agreed to put the balloons up, if possible. The glimmer was scheduled for 9:00-10:00 PM and a good crowd was on hand for the evening. The winds calmed down a bit and the glow was on. Eighteen balloons were selected to participate in this event.
Friday morning started with a 5:00 AM pilot briefing. The weather was looking good, and the flight was a go. We headed out to Bowman field for the launch. It was a cold, crisp morning. Take off time was set for 7:15. It was to be a hare and hound race. The US Bank was the hare balloon. With gentle winds, the balloons were launched.
The hare balloon laid out the target, and all of the hound balloons gave chase. Twenty-three of the 28 balloons scored within 100’ of the target. The Jasper Engines & Transmissions Balloon was 3’ out which was good for a fifth place finish in the rush hour race.
The position draw was held at noon. This determines where we will be staged for the glow on Friday night. We were told that bad weather was moving in for Friday night and all day Saturday. The decision was made to move the Derby race up from Saturday morning to Friday evening. This meant we would fly a hare and hound race then hurry back through rush hour traffic for the glow.
We met at Bowman field at 5:15 for the Derby Race. The winds were still very strong, with a lot of thermal activity in the area. It was at the pilots’ discretion whether or not to fly. The Jasper Engines and Transmissions Balloon choose not to fly. With the current conditions, only about 10 balloons chose to fly.
We headed back over to the Kentucky Fairgrounds for the evening glow. The winds were still breezy but were forecast to calm down. The glow was scheduled from 9-10. The warm spring evening saw 68,000 people in attendance. We handed out many of our Hot Air Balloon cards and made many smiles. This link will lead to a video of the glow from Channel 11news in Louisville
The Jasper Engines & Transmissions Balloon is always a crowd favorite.
The Jasper Engines and Transmissions Balloon participated in the Carolina Balloon Fest this past weekend in Statesville, NC.
On Friday morning, there was a media flight which took place near the intersections of I-40 and I-77. There was a lot of exposure on both interstates during the morning rush hour.
On Friday evening, the Jasper Engines and Transmissions Balloon flew a sponsor flight over downtown Statesville, also during the evening rush hour, for a large amount of additional exposure. A good crowd was on hand.
The Jasper Engines and Transmissions Balloon enjoyed another good flight Saturday morning across downtown Statesville and along I-40.
The Saturday evening flight was cancelled due to some gusty winds. With a crowd of over 10,000 spectators in attendance, the Jasper Engines and Transmissions Balloon was inflated and stood alone in the crowd with all eyes on it only. A balloon glow followed with our balloon front and center.
Sunday morning there was a final competition flight in the Statesville area with the Jasper Engines and Transmissions Balloon being only 3 of 56 balloons to be competitive, making it to the festival site as a crowd favorite.
On all of the scheduled flights, the festival site is also home of several NASCAR team hangers. The Jasper Engines and Transmissions Balloon was in the air during 3 of the 4 flights as such team owners and crew for Jimmy Johnson, Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were able to see the balloon as they flew out of the airport on their way to the race in Talladega.
The Jasper Engines and Transmissions Balloon is always a crowd favorite at all events it attends.
This was the last scheduled event of 2014 for the Jasper Engines and Transmissions Balloon.
Warren D Smith