Balloon Racing 101

Before you go, check out these fun facts on all things balloon racing...

Balloon competitions score how close a pilot can get to a pre-determined target. Small weighted markers are dropped at the target. The challenge is to be the closest to the target, but unlike all other forms of flying, balloon pilots do not have direct control of their direction of flight. The balloon simply drifts with the wind. Competition pilots have become quite skilled in reading the winds aloft and using them to their advantage to get where they want to be (the target!). Competitors have gotten so good that the difference between first place and third or fourth can be fractions of an inch.

Key Grab
A Key grab is a very unique component to a balloon race. A pole 10 or 20 feet high is the target. A detachable ring is fastened to the top of the pole. The first pilot who removes the ring wins the prize. Prizes can be almost anything; new cars, cash, and even new balloons have been given away! An X is often placed near the pole as a target, and the two tasks are flown simultaneously. Throw your marker and grab the ring - you can do quite well in a single flight!

The competition director can assign pilots to drop markers at multiple targets of their choice. Targets are usually road intersections or road - railroad intersections. Sounds easy! But the targets must be identified by their map coordinates. The first target's coordinates must be declared before launch, the coordinates for the second target must be written on the tail of the marker dropped at the first target, and so on. Errors in writing down the coordinates or choosing a target that is difficult to get to can cost precious points.

Red River Balloon Rally LIVE Coverage

WHEN: Thursday, July 13 and Friday, July 14.

NBC 6 News - 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 6:30-7 p.m.
KSHV 45 - 5:30 p.m.


Our valued group of volunteers play a big part in helping the Sports Commission with events, including the Red River Balloon Rally.

Volunteer with us and get ready to experience and enjoy sports from a whole new perspective!

For more information on how to become involved with the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission and help us conduct our future events, email Teresa Micheels at or call (318)429-0628.