Soaring to Victory: Celebrating Local Balloon Pilot Drew Egerton and Team's Triumph at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival, Team Balloon Competition
When it comes to celebrating triumphs and exceptional feats, our local balloonists take center stage. Among these, one name shines bright in the skies above Canton, Ohio – Drew Egerton.
This year's Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival, Team Balloon Competition witnessed an extraordinary display of teamwork, skill, and determination as Drew Egerton and his crew claimed victory in a one-of-a-kind event that brought together the thrill of hot air ballooning and the excitement of football fandom.
Breaking from the norm of individual competitions, this unique event saw teams of three balloon pilots working together to achieve greatness high above the beautiful landscapes of Canton, OH. A total of eight teams stepped up to the challenge, but it was Drew Egerton's team that soared highest, taking home the coveted title and leaving an indelible mark on local history.
Team #1 Pilots + Crew: Taylor, Lucas and Drew Egerton, Paul and Melissa Dale, Chase and Callie Donner
A Weekend Filled with Challenges and Camaraderie
The journey to victory wasn't without its share of challenges. The event spanned three days (Friday, 7/28 - Sunday, 7/30/23), each offering its own set of trials and tribulations. Friday saw regular flights for sponsors, a way to warm up before the main competition. Aultman Health proudly sponsored Drew Egerton's team, setting the stage for the excitement that was to follow.
Saturday brought with it unexpected rain and winds, grounding the balloons. However, the team didn't let this setback dampen their spirits. Instead, they made the most of the day by engaging in fun activities with their families and fellow competitors. Mini golf and lunch, hosted by the Dales, created memories that would soon become a part of the victory narrative.
Image below: Team #1: (left to right) Paul Dale, Drew Egerton, Chase Donner
Rising to the Challenge: The Tasks That Defined Victory
Sunday was the day that would define the fate of the competition. Event Director, Paul Suttle, set forth four challenging tasks that would test not only the pilots' skills but also their strategic thinking and decision-making abilities.
Image below: Crossing I77 approaching Task 1 & 2 at Ken State Stark Campus
Task 1: Fly In
The first task required pilots to navigate back to a target at the event field using the winds from their chosen launch sites. Precision was the name of the game, and Drew Egerton demonstrated his expertise by winning this task with an impressive distance of 0.12 meters from the center. Teammates Chase Donner and Paul Dale secured respectable positions, showcasing the team's strength from the very start.
Image below: Drew Egerton dropping the marker for Task 1
Task 2: Team Minimum Distance Double Drop
Task 2 added a strategic twist, with pilots needing to collaborate to create a Tic Tac Toe pattern on a massive field. Drew Egerton and Chase Donner's exceptional coordination led them to victory, securing a first-place finish with a distance of 37.13 meters. Their success highlighted the importance of teamwork in conquering these intricate challenges.
Image above: The target for Task 1 and the Tic Tac Toe layout for Task 2 (red dot in center is Drew's winning baggie for Task 1)
Task 3: Hesitation Walz
The third task, named "Hesitation Walz," demanded pilots to make on-the-fly decisions as they aimed for two distinct targets. Drew Egerton and his crew continued to show their mettle, securing positions within the top rankings, despite the inherent challenges of making real-time choices while navigating the skies.
Image below: Paul Dale with a good score on Task 3
Task 4: Judge Declared Goal
In the final task, pilots converged on a single target, with the nearest pilot claiming victory. While the target proved elusive for traditional measures, technology came to the rescue. Chase Donner clinched the first spot in this task with a distance of 273 meters, highlighting the fusion of skill and innovation that defined this competition.
Triumph, Unity, and Local Pride
The efforts of Drew Egerton, Chase Donner, and Paul Dale culminated in a resounding victory, with their team clinching first place with a total of 7,176 points. This marked a significant milestone for Drew and Paul, who celebrated their third Canton win. Teaming up with Chase for the first time, they not only showcased their individual talent but also their ability to seamlessly collaborate as a unit.
Reflecting on the event, Drew Egerton shared his heartfelt sentiments, "I love this event and have been going since 2009. It is the event that sparked my interest in competition and holds a special place in my heart for that." Drew's passion for ballooning, competition, and his community shone brightly throughout the event, inspiring those who witnessed their victory.
In a world where teamwork, dedication, and local pride are celebrated, Drew Egerton and his crew stand as shining examples of what can be achieved when individuals come together to reach for the skies – quite literally. Their victory at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival, Team Balloon Competition will be remembered as a testament to the spirit of our community and the heights we can achieve when we lift each other up.
Image above: The rest of the teams approaching the field
Carolina Balloonfest 2023
Carolina Balloonfest has a mission to continue the heritage of hot air ballooning in Iredell County, spotlight the community of Statesville and donate a percentage of Carolina Balloonfest proceeds to local nonprofit organizations.
Drew Egerton will be flying at the Carolina Balloonfest. Learn more about this annual event or Get Your Tickets here.
Mark your calendars as Discover Statesville - The Show will be talking with Drew on our upcoming podcast on Wednesday, 9/20/2023, to talk about this prestigious award, ballooning and the Carolina Balloonfest.