The Great Texas Balloon Race 2019 in Longview, Texas
Aug 7, 2019 | By: Zoe Martin Photography
When we moved to Longview, Texas last year, we knew little about what happened in the community. While staying at a hotel for two weeks I read through local magazines that had articles featuring events in town. We weren't able to do many things as a family due to my husband's rigorous work schedule, but last week we had family come to visit, which just happened to be the weekend of The Great Texas Balloon Race, so we decided we'd go there to attend the balloon glow.
A few weeks before the event I had the opportunity to hear more about the race during a Longview Hospitality and Tourism Association meeting. Dan Droege gave us some interesting information about it. I don't think I'm the only one who had the idea that the balloons raced from a start to a finish line. What they actually do is accomplish multiple tasks daily. One of the races involves getting to a certain coordinate and dropping a rubber duck onto a target on the ground. Another is to fly their balloon to a given coordinate in the air. Technology is so amazing to me. The pilots are able to use tools to determine their aerial location to ensure they're where they need to be to place in the race.
Each morning begins with a 6:00 a.m. meeting where the crews are given their assignments. People sometimes follow the crews immediately after to watch them take off. There's no set location for them to launch from. They're able to go anywhere in town that is open to the public. Some of the pilots have been participating for years and know some of the locals. These pilots have the luxury of making connections that allow them to fly from private property with permission. I'm more of a night owl, but I was hoping to get out soon enough to tailgate a pilot. Unfortunately, the wind was too much to allow the balloons to fly Saturday morning. I missed my chance on Friday.
The East Texas Regional Airport provides the location for the weekend's festivities. There are special balloon shapes such as the zebra, a crab, and even an armadillo to enjoy. Even if the balloons don't race, the special shapes are displayed throughout the city so visitors can drive around to see them. I believe each of the pilots racing has a local sponsor or two. Longview businesses are very receptive to hosting a catering or prize donation each year.
Of course, there's a carnival set up on the grounds and different vendors along the way. Being my first year I wasn't aware that there would be people jumping from planes trailing the American flag behind them. That was an unexpected surprise. As the planes flew overhead it was neat to see the ReMax red, white, and blue parachutes falling from the sky. I happened to have my camera strapped on and was able to grab a few quick images of them coming down.
After the sun set, they announced that it was time to fire up the balloons. Spectators surrounded the baskets as we anticipated the glow. When I'm behind the camera, I see things from the eye of a photographer. By that, I mean that I want to capture the best possible image and really wish I had the ability to have complete control of the final image. There is no way that could happen in a crowded location. My mind's eye saw the balloons without the crowds, so I did my best to position myself to capture the balloons that way.
Anticipating the opportunity to attend next year, getting up early to photograph a launch is my goal. I'm honing my videography skills, so I'll be sharing that on my Facebook or Instagram page. Do you follow me on either of those? If not, head over here to follow me on Facebook and right here is where I am on Instagram.
Now, tell me, what's your favorite part of The Great Texas Balloon Race?