SLIDESHOW: Great Balloon Rush-Hour Race takes to the skies - WDRB 41 Louisville News

SLIDESHOW: Great Balloon Rush-Hour Race takes to the skies

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All eyes were on the sky for the Great Balloon Rush-Hour Race Friday morning. All eyes were on the sky for the Great Balloon Rush-Hour Race Friday morning.
WDRB's Valerie Chinn was in the hare balloon, so the other balloons chased after her this morning during the 2013 Great Balloon Rush-Hour Race. WDRB's Valerie Chinn was in the hare balloon, so the other balloons chased after her this morning during the 2013 Great Balloon Rush-Hour Race.

LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- All eyes were on the sky for the Great Balloon Rush-Hour Race Friday morning.  WDRB's Valerie Chinn was in the hare balloon, so the other balloons chased after her this morning.

WDRB's Keith Kaiser was on the ground, chasing after the balloons!  Check out both their pictures by clicking on the "filmstrip" above!

With pilot Scott McClinton, Valerie Chinn took to the skies in the U.S. Bank hare balloon with its red, white, and blue colors.  Balloon pilot Scott McClinton explained, "That means they're looking for us to set a direction, so we're going to go ahead to Indiana and it's going to be a beautiful flight this morning."

Valerie says, "It sure was -- with balloons chasing after us, it was a picture perfect day."

The balloon sailed along the Ohio River, getting a bird's eye view of rush-hour traffic, downtown Louisville, and the KFC Yum Center.

McClinton has been piloting the hare balloon for the past nine years:  "There's no way for me to lose if I'm the hare. There are going to be 25 losers and one winner out there. I won this race in 1998. It was probably the best win I've ever had, so there's nothing like coming home and winning in your hometown."

People of all ages gathered early at Bowman Field just to see the balloons get set up and take off.  Cathy Maddox, who was watching the balloons, said, "We've come out here...every year.  The weather is nice.  We love it, it's magic watching it go up in front of the sunrise."

Another balloon watcher, John Kozarovic, said, "They're just so colorful and you see them come in a small package and they lay them out and they're huge and up against the sky with the sunrise over there it's going to be perfect."

The event is also a huge favorite for the community, as people take out their cameras to capture these moments.  Balloonists say while people think they're just floating in the air, there's some real skill involved.

John Carter of the Ford Balloon, when asked what his strategy was, replied, "Just to be as close to the hare balloon.  At the end of the day, it's the winds, different altitudes.  The winds are different, try to do what he does and head in the same direction he is going."

As part of the competition, the hare balloon put down an X in a field off of Lewis and Clark Parkway as a target and the other balloons threw grass seed bags to try and be the closest.

Carter was asked how much is luck and how much is actual navigation.  He said, "It's a lot of navigation on these pilots, these pilots know what they're doing, they climb really fast, then can vent a little heat out of the balloon and bring it down really fast."

When it was time to land, passengers were told to bend their knees and hold on for a quick bump, and it was over.

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