Hot air balloons rise with the sun for Great Balloon Race - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Hot air balloons rise with the sun for Great Balloon Race

31 balloons took off Saturday morning from Bowman Field. 31 balloons took off Saturday morning from Bowman Field.
Sean Askren in the Jasper Engines & Transmissions balloon made the winning toss. Sean Askren in the Jasper Engines & Transmissions balloon made the winning toss.
Pilot Sean Askren Pilot Sean Askren

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The crisp, clear Saturday morning was ideal for the crowning event of the Kentucky Derby Festival BalloonFest.

31 hot air balloons fired up and rose with the sun around 7 a.m. and the race was on from Bowman Field! The pack was led by the U.S. Bank balloon, piloted by Scott McClinton. U.S. Bank is the sponsor for KDF BalloonFest events.

The Great Balloon Race is actually no race at all. Instead of a test of speed, it is a test of accuracy. The pilot who throws a bag of seed closest to the center of a large target 'X' is declared the winner.

The wind carried the balloons northeast to E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park where the target was placed.

Sean Askren with the Jasper Engines & Transmissions balloon came in first with a distance from the target of one foot, two inches. After four previous years of participation, Askren went home with the prize for the first time.

Second place went to Stuart Enloe piloting the RE/MAX balloon with a distance of one foot, three inches.

In third was Travis Vencel in the Park Community Federal Credit Union balloon with a distance of one foot, 11 inches.

The Kroger balloon flown by Tim Basey came in fourth and Nick Donner in the Tran Orthodontics balloon was fifth.

Several balloons veered off course into Oldham County and were not able to make a toss. 16 pilots finished the race.

The Great Balloon Race began in 1973 and remains one of Louisville's favorite family traditions.

Copyright 2014 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

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