The Great Texas Balloon Race leaves Gregg Co. Airport due to safety concerns and limited space

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) – For the first time in more than thirty years, the Great Texas Balloon Race will be held within the city limits of Longview in 2022. And race founder Bill Bussey is pretty excited about the new location at the Longview Convention Complex.

When it started, Bill Bussey never imagined the race would last this long.

“Back then, in 1978, did you ever think this would happen?” I asked Bussey.

“Well, in 1978 I thought that would be the end of it completely. One race,” Bussey said.

However, in 2022 it will be number 45, and most of them were at Gregg County Regional Airport. In 2021, there were no events, but pilot meetings were held at Maude Cobb.

“Well, we’ve had such a positive response from the community that we’re definitely going back to that area, and so we’re planning that. And so we’re very excited,” Bussey said.

The answer was because all the flights were over the city limits. The holiday glow has stood behind Maude Cobb for several years now. And the site is closer to the hotels where the race participants will stay.

“The piots like it a lot, and our sponsor likes it a lot because it’s all in one place,” Bussey said.

Bussey says hosting a race at an airport poses security concerns and more.

“With the expansion and success of the Gregg County Airport, we were losing square footage. And so I think it was time or we were going to have to move,” Bussey said.

And the myriad of tents, some of which are air-conditioned, won’t have to be pitched.

“We have a children’s playground which has a chain link fence so we can keep the children safe. Everything seems to be working and we are pleasantly surprised,” Bussey said.

And Bussey thinks the oldest form of manned flight has a future in the town of Longview.

The Great Texas Balloon Race will be held June 17-19, 2022 and will host nearly eighty hot air balloons.

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