Sunday morning the weather that only had a 20% of forming around Kansas City came and when the briefing started it was already raining at the Holiday Inn in Olathe. The briefing was not cancelled though because the awards was moved up and they wanted to get a head count on who would be sticking around.
John Petrehn won another event this summer in preparation to defend his World Championship next week in Battle Creek, MI. This was a sweet victory as John lives in Olathe. Second place was a tie between Gary Heavin and Joe Heartsill followed by Yudai Fujita who was competing from Japan. Rounding out the top five was Rhett Heartsill. Because the scoring system that was used was positional scoring there were several tie scores and very little spacing between some other positions. This system is less accurate because it doesn't reflect how well pilots score.
The glows and tethering at the field on both Thursday and Friday nights were a big success. Huge crowds came out to see the skydivers before the special shape balloons and US Bank balloons began to inflate for the National Anthem that lead to a 30 minute balloon glow both nights before the concerts.
In just the second year that SkyCab Balloons has been running this event it was a huge success and they plan again on having 50 balloons and a very competitive field with a very high prize purse to keep the best pilots in the world coming back for more.
All pictures below are from Cindy Petrehn who was at the targets on Saturday morning.
Balloons flying low to hold on to the left.
Saturday morning four tasks were called for pilots in Olathe, KS. Winds were not very strong and there was very little steerage on the pibals. The four tasks for the morning were a FIT, MXDD, HWZ and WSD.
The Fly-in (FIT) and Maximum Distance Double Drop (MXDD) were both at the main field near the Great Mall of the Great Plains. Pilots had to find a launch site 1 mile out and the flying area allowed for a lot of places to launch from.
Though the winds were light, throwing three baggies in a short distance happens fast no matter how slow you are traveling. It was a little difficult to maneuver the balloons to get a low approach over the shape and the X because the shape was so close to the crowd line but from the looks of things most pilots made good approaches from a few hundred feet up and right down to the target. Yudai Fujita flew right over the center of the X shape and looked to have two good spots for his MXDD baggies. Other good scores will come from John Petrehn and Rhett Heartsill as they both came through the target under control and close.
The HWZ target was only hit by Jason Jones as the winds all shifted to the right. The best part is Jason is flying a ride balloon! He took off before the hare balloon did and this allowed him to get much closer to the targets before the winds shifted. He also scored on the Watership Down task with Matt McClinton flying the hare balloon. There may be one other score on this target but scores are not up yet. Nick Donner was in the field and could have had a score but were three minutes late on the scoring period.
This evening is a repeat of last night with a 45 minute glow and then getting things ready for three tasks tomorrow morning. During the day today a big contingent is expected to go to an indoor go-kart track for some R&R. Check back for scores after about 2pm or so.
Great Midwest Balloon Fest - Olathe, KS
The Great Midwest Balloon Fest gets under way in Olathe, KS for the second time with SkyCab Balloons running the show. USbank is the overall sponsor of the event again as the event has expanded from 30 balloons in 2011 to almost 50 balloons in 2012.
The event kicks off friday with a balloon glow on Friday evening at the Great Mall of the Great Plains. This year the only planned flying on Friday and Saturday evening is with the ride balloons. All other balloons will be staying for the glow.
Saturday and Sunday mornings are the competition flights. If the winds cooperate there is a possibility of four targets Saturday and three on Sunday morning. The winds are looking to be out of the east and very steerable on Saturday morning with a windshift Sunday where winds are expected to be more from the south.
Last year's winner was Joe Heartsill and he will be looking to defend that and fly well as he warms up for the World Championship that starts in just over a week. He is joined by four other members of Team USA all looking to hone their skills for next week. This year, the event also has an international presence as Yudai Fujita from Japan will be here preparing for the World Championship. Yudai had a good showing in Indianola a week ago and looks to improve on his finish there. With $20,000 in prize money this weekend and the money split between overall and individual tasks expect different strategies to play out as the flights progress.
The lucrative money and desirable preparation that Scott McClinton and his team will provide for Worlds will make for a great competition weekend!