Pilots set sail on trial runs in push before balloon race starts
Kilgore — For the 55 pilots scheduled to compete in the 2014 U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship, the days leading up to the competition can be vital for practice.
However, consistent wind gusts of 15 mph made Sunday’s round of practice flights difficult for the pilots who decided to brave the less than ideal conditions.
Kinnie Gibson, of Longview, and his crew launched his balloon, Airbender, from Kilgore at about 7 a.m. After 90 minutes in the air, Gibson touched down in a large pasture off U.S. 80 between Longview and Hallsville.
Gibson is competing in his 16th national championship and has 35 years of flying experience. Heading Gibson’s crew is his wife, Sheri.
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