North Central Regional Championship/ 37th Great Pershing Balloon Derby
by JASON JONES
The city of Brookfield, MO and the 37th Great Pershing Balloon Derby will once again be the host of the North Central Regional Championship over Labor Day weekend. If you have never flown in Brookfield you are missing an excellent flying opportunity. Brookfield is surrounded by thousands of acres of farm fields, friendly people, and event organizers who take great pride in the event. The Brookfield Elks Lodge serves as the home base for the event where check-in, pilot’s meetings and socials are held at the lodge. Saturday morning’s parade is a must attend and highlight of the labor day weekend event. People from all over the county come to watch and participate in the parade.
The race Director, Paul Petrehn, will have a talented group of competitors to call tasks for again this year. National competitors Larry Coan, Todd Isley, Matt Fenster, Jason Jones, Scott Armstrong and John Petrehn will all be competing as well as some excellent regional competitors such as Layne Wolters, Bret Christian, Bill Clemons, Kristine Bertsch, Jon Shelton and Matt Riley to name a few. With the vast farm fields this is an event that lends itself to multiple tasks each flight. Petrehn has been known to throw four and five tasks at the pilots with just about every type of task imaginable.
Saturday morning a two part task was called. A FIN and a JDG. The winds were tricky into the first target. Balloons had to climb to find enough right turn to get to there goal. Many pilots got baggies on the ground but throwing them from high altitude made it interesting. The FIT was much easier to attain a good score. The target was 8 kilometer from target one which allowed pilots to maneuver their balloons right over the top of the lake side target.
After the first competitive flight John Petrehn was in first place with Todd Isley close behind.
Saturday evening was a great evening with a nice crowd on hand. For an evening flight it was very steerable. Most pilots chose to take a sponsor for a ride since there was no competitive task called. After the flight there was a glow. This was the type of night event organizers dream about. What a great show!
Sunday morning a thunderstorm was moving into the area. The flight was canceled.
Sunday evening after the front passed proved to be much cooler and flyable. Again a night for sponsor rides. There was several balloons flew but the majority waited for dusk and put on a glow for the crowd.
Monday morning the weather looked to be good for a competitive ballooning. Again a two part task was called. The tasks were a FIN and a JDG. The FIN proved to be the only target make-able due to changing winds. A left turn that had been present was hard to find after making to the first goal. In the end there was good scoring on the Fly in Task and the with a very small point spread going into the flight it was anyone's game.
In the end the championships were split. Todd Isley won the Great Pershing Balloon Derby and John Petrehn won the North Central Regional Championship. Four out of six possible flights is a great weeekend of flying.