High winds prevented some Great Texas Balloon Race competitors from taking a practice flight

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) – The Great Texas Balloon Race hasn’t officially started, but you may have seen balloons over Longview this morning. Many took part in a training flight while some chose not to climb due to the winds. We were with a group of pilots while they were deciding whether or not to do the practice flight.

Young Gun Lillian Speicher, Bob Gonzales and Jonathon Wright decided to work together as an unofficial team during the Great Texas Balloon Race practice flight.

“The team concept is to work together and at any level, it’s the winds that go, they’ll call the winds and say this is where I am, this is the direction I’m going. And even the ground team can go to the targets and find a ball that’s lined up with it and say, it’s coming to a certain degree and that’s how far left or right of the target it is,” said Lillian said.

Before sunrise, pilots attend a briefing on weather and target locations.

Now they have to find a place to launch. They were gone, on the road. They stopped at the Reo to observe a piball, a released helium balloon, to check the direction and speed of the wind. The wind is fast at a higher level.

“Bam, you’d be like two-three minutes and all of a sudden you’re blocking, and now you’re coming down,” Jonathon said.

Lillian said it was very likely they wouldn’t fly because “everything is mixing up right now and all the winds are changing,” Lillian said.

Balloons were taking off all around as we went to another place.

We headed for the first target, on the ground, not in the air. Most balloons were on the far right of the target.

“It all turned out,” Jonathon said.

So they didn’t have the practice, but new pilot Lillian got some useful tips from the experience. And the only red marker in the middle of the target was thrown by veteran Young Gun Blake Aldridge.

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