Point State Park was the launch and tether site where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers flow into the Ohio River. This is an excellent site for the hot air balloons as well as a great place to view the numerous events including fireworks, water ski shows, barge parades and Bud Light Grand Prix boat race to name just a few. This was to be one great Regatta weekend.
Friday evening, a hare and hound event was planned. The Pontiac balloon was hare, piloted by Shawn Askren. Pontiac was out of the park in quick fashion and only those pilots who got off shortly after the hare would score close enough to count. Shifting winds would take the remaining balloons in a totally different direction and not to the south side of Pittsburgh where the hare landed. The GMC balloon, piloted by Kevin Miko scored closest on this event.
Saturday morning got off to a great start for crew, pilots, and spectators. Once again the hare balloon was up and out of the park quickly. The hare was followed by twenty plus hot air balloons including a "Smiley" cookie, shopping bag, Ray-O-Vac battery and the TBS 20th Anniversary Birthday Cake. The Mayor of Pittsburgh, Tom Murphy, his son T.J. and daughter Shannon got to ride aboard the TBS cake. For T.J. who was celebrating his sixth birthday it was a real treat-riding in and eating his cake.
The launch was a spectacular sight with the cascade of colors creating quite a contrast as they soared against the many skyscrapers that make up the skyline of downtown Pittsburgh. Many of the pilots had no problem hitting the target, which was the Station Square parking lot. The Famous Footwear Tennis Shoe, piloted by Jim Ryan scored closest for this target.
The huge Energizer Bunny was the only hot air balloon that did not make the flight. Instead, the bunny stayed to tether to the delight of many spectators.
Sunday morning was questionable due to light winds and an undesirable direction. Many of the balloons tethered with the hope that conditions would improve. The competition was eventually cancelled and pilots were allowed to fly at their own discretion. Six balloons launched and landed about one mile away. Most of the balloons stayed up and tethered in the park for close to three hours. A real crowd pleaser.
Prizes this year went to Jim Ryan for first place winning two round trip tickets to Europe. Second place was awarded to Kevin Miko, also winning two round trip tickets to Europe. Third place and a cash award went to Gordon Boring flying the British Airways balloon.