Michigan pilot wins big at national championship

Paul Petrehn, a Michigan hot air balloon pilot, dealt with some difficult conditions on Sunday to take home more than £5,000 in prize money and the title of champion at this year’s U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship in Longview.

Petrehn, who was watched at the event by his father and brother, both of whom are also famous pilots, didn’t perform quite as efficiently as he’d hoped in the initial two rounds but compensated for his shortcomings with a fantastic showing later on.

Talking about the difficulties caused by the weather, he said:

“I adjusted for that third target to a more desirable position. There was one big wind shift on the surface that prevented me from hitting those targets. After that, they remained fairly consistent to complete the last task.”

Petrehn was just one of a number of pilots hindered by the weather. Around 15 participants were hit by strong winds as they came in towards the ring pole at around 7:15am.

Andrew Perehn, Paul’s brother, was the only pilot who had a go at getting his ring around the pole, and came within a couple of feet of getting his hands on a bonus prize of more than £3,000.

According to Jim Birk, the competition’s director, this year was the first time since 2006 that the ring toss prize hadn’t been claimed.

During the festival, it was announced that a $5,000 deal had been agreed to keep Longview as the site of 2014’s event.

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