LONGVIEW, TEXAS – A first-time event attached to one of the premiere balloon competitions is growing to more than twice its size this year and is looking for young and new-to-the-sport balloon pilots to enter the field.
The Young Guns competition debuted at the 2019 Great Texas Balloon Race in Longview, Texas, with six up-and-coming pilots who competed alongside their more-seasoned colleagues. At this coming year’s event, June 19 to 21, 2020, up to 15 Young Gun pilots will take to the skies for a chance to win substantially more prize money but with considerations made for their experience level.
New for 2020, the Young Guns competition will also serve as the Balloon Federation of America's Junior Nationals competition. This national-level event will be part of the qualification process for the top finishers to compete at future FAI Junior World Hot Air Balloon events.
To qualify for the Young Guns competition, pilots must be licensed and be 29 years of age or younger on the first day of scheduled flights.
With a total purse available of $12,100 for Young Gun pilots – not including a possible extra $5,000 for our “Ducks on a Pond” contest – these younger competitors stand the chance of taking home significantly more in winnings this year.
The pilot in first place at the end of the competition will win $2,500, a black cowboy hat, and a six-shooter. Each of the competitors will win something in the competition with winnings as follows:
· Second place: $2,000
· Third place: $1,000
· Fourth place: $800
· Fifth place: $700
· Sixth place: $600
· Seventh though 15th place: $500 a piece
Young Gun pilots will also be recognized on the Great Texas Balloon Race website (gtbr.net) and at a kickoff event Thursday, June 18, 2020, receive a hotel room during the event, breakfast and dinner each day, pilot shirts, propane for the competition, pilot gift bag and crew if requested.
The goal of the Young Guns competition is to introduce newer and younger pilots to competitive ballooning, and we do it at an event world-renowned for hosting a top-of-its-class competition in what will be its 43rd year. After only its first year, Young Guns has already created a buzz in the balloon community.
To help accommodate for experience level of the Young Gun pilots, they are allowed time after the pilot briefing each morning to ask questions of race officials after other pilots have left the meeting.
Young Gun pilots will run the same tasks as the other pilots at the Great Texas Balloon Race; however, if a Young Gun pilot misses a target, they will still be scored based on their logger. Young Gun pilots will also take part in the balloon glow at the Great Texas Balloon Race lighting up the night sky for awe-struck onlookers in East Texas, where the balloon glow originated.
Cameron Wall was among the six pilots in the inaugural event at the 2019 Great Texas Balloon.
“Looking back on the event, it is so promising to see a whole event and all of their pilots get behind the next generation of competitors,” Wall said. “The event was a sign of great things to come.”