Organizers go to scorecards after final flight of Great Texas Balloon Race canceled

Weather shortened the competition in an annual East Texas hot air balloon event.
Published: Jun. 19, 2022 at 4:23 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 19, 2022 at 6:21 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - Weather shortened the competition in an annual East Texas hot air balloon event.

The final competitive flight for pilots in the Great Texas Balloon Race was canceled Sunday morning by race organizers due to unsafe atmospheric conditions.

The wild Saturday competition set the stage for what was expected to be a race to the wire for pilots trying to win the 2022 race.

However, after an hour-and-a-half delay Sunday morning, the race was called for weather concerns.

“Today was really disappointing for those that didn’t score well on the first day but had a good day yesterday and were kind of climbing back in the standings,” said longtime GTBR announcer Glen Moyer. ”They really needed a flight today to try to make up ground.”

It was a let down for some pilots like Jonathan Wright of Arizona who, after scoring big on Saturday, wanted one more shot at it.

“I did good yesterday. I wish I’d have done a little bit better on Friday, but that’s the way racing goes,” Wright said.

Because the final competitive flight was canceled, they had to go to the scorecards to see who accrued the most points in the previous two days’ flights.

“Yesterday was an incredible day; everybody was on target,” Moyer said. “Two tasks at the primary target, and it seemed like they couldn’t miss.

Finishing first overall was Kentucky pilot Nick Donner, winning $7,500.

“It was nice to see the different targets,” Donner said. “The winds were more stable than what they were here at Maude Cobb, and we got a lot better scores compared to the first day.”

Second place went to Forth Worth pilot Rhett Heartsill. who won $3,700.

“The winds were real steer-able,” Heartsill said. “They set up the targets in good spots, and almost everybody could achieve a result and not just result but really tight scoring,” Heartsill said.

Finishing third was Johnny Petrehn of Missouri City, winning $2,500.

Patrick Nilz of Arizona won the Young Guns category, banking $2,500.

The event is being called a huge successful return.

“This is one of the top competitive recognized events, not because the balloon race says, ‘Hey, we’re great,’ but it’s because the pilots know it, and they’ve built that reputation,” Moyer said.

Jonathan Wright finished 5th overall, and Heartsill also won the Texas state champion title.

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