Twenty local shutterbugs were randomly selected as winners of a Photographer Badge and VIP parking pass valid September 21-23, 2018 at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival. The badge allows the photographer access to the festival and more importantly the ability to walk onto the launch field with their cameras to capture an up close view of the hot air balloons, crew, pilots, and the thousands of fans in attendance.


The Festival Preview & Photographer Badge Drawing was promoted on Facebook  and held on Friday, August 10, 2018 in the parking lot at Central Market located at 320 Coit Road in Plano, Texas.



Congratulations to the following winners of the drawing:  Warren Harris, Elizabeth Luse, Shelley D. Franklin, Joe Paul, Dennis Brickett, John Babis, Artist German, Randy Ratzlaff, Alan Daniel, Juan Samuel Barajas, Henry Pereyda, Bob Watkins, Meredith Joyce, John Lightle, Elizabeth Buchanan, Augustin Samson, Lisa Sutherlin, Sandra Young, Millie Hooper, and Kyle Bunch.


Photographers who were present at the time of the drawing received their packages and all other winners will receive their packages by regular mail. For more information please email: and thank you to everyone who submitted their photos for the drawing!



  1. I would like to Volunteer to assist pilots and team for the 2018 Plano Hot Air Balloon Festival.

    I was a member of the AT&T Hot Air Balloon Team from 1995 – 1999 in Reno Nevada.

    We enjoyed learning about the origins of Hot Air Ballooning from our pilot.

    I was fortunate to be lead assistant of the AT&T Balloon Chase Team. Assisting with set up, filling the envelop, and Chasing our balloon. Our balloon landed in a residential neighborhood. Critical to keep balloon away from electrical lines. Our pilot dropped a rope which we anchored to ourselves and chase truck for a safe landing.

    On the 19th September 1783 Pilatre De Rozier, launched the first hot air balloon called ‘Aerostat Reveillon’. in Paris France. The passengers were a sheep, a duck and a rooster. The balloon stayed in the air less than 15 minutes before crashing back to the ground.

    Traditionally, each time a hot air balloon lands, champagne is shared. This, you may have known, but you may not know how this tradition came to be. It is said that back in the day local farmers believed that hot air balloons that were landing in their fields may have been dragons descending from the skies. To soothe the farmers’ fears and make peace, the hot air balloon pilots would share a bottle of champagne with the farmers whose land they have disturbed.

    Hot air balloons have a chase crew. This is a very interesting fact most people are not aware of. What is a hot air balloon chase crew? This is a ground crew that follows the hot air balloon throughout the flight in a chase vehicle. And the chase vehicle must be big enough to take on the balloon, its wicker basket, as well as the passengers at the end of the balloon flight.

    I’m Most fortunate and Honored to have been chosen as 1 of 20 winners of the Photographer Badge for the 2018 Plano Balloon Festival.
    I’m looking forward to helping pilots and crews in needed, photographing balloons when not on working shift and basking in the balloon glow. Magnificent display of light and wonderment.

    Thank you,

    Bob Watkins (214)284-0331

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