Bill Bussey (balloonist)

Bill Bussey (balloonist)

Bill Bussey is a dentist in Longview, Texas, an avid hot air balloon pilot and official world record holder in balloon flights. He is the founder of The Great Texas Balloon Race and the first person to organize a "Balloon Glow" at a public event (1980 Great Texas Balloon Race) - balloon glows are now a part of hot air balloon festivals and events around the world.

Bussey states how his interest and entrance in hot air ballooning began, "I was skiing in Aspen, Colorado and saw two hot air balloons tethered on a rugby field and I just sat down in awe!" Bussey says that it was just a few months after that experience that he had his first opportunity to buy and interest in a fellow Texan's hot air balloon. That investment quickly led to a second investment with three other partners when they bought anew balloon.

Since that beginning, Bussey has logged over 3,000 hours flying hot air balloons. According to Bussey's website, as a competitive pilot he has won 35 championships; has finished in the top 3 in more than 100 events; is a perennial top 10 competitor at the US National Championships, and has represented the US in World competition three times.

In 1986, Bussey set his first world record. It became a drive and over the years since, he has set 29 US and 14 World hot air balloon records. A summation of some of the most important record setting flights can be found on Bussey's website.

Bussey's website lists some of his accomplishments;

  • 1978 - 1st balloon flight
  • 1978 - 1st balloon championship, Florida Midwinter Festival
  • 1986 - 1st World Record flight - AX5 world distance record of 179 miles
  • 1988 - #1 ranking with the National Balloon Racing Association
  • 1989 - #1 ranking with the Balloon Federation of American
  • 1985, 1988, 1995 - member of the US World Balloon Team
  • 1995 - Flight of SkyQuest 5 setting world record for AX6-9
  • 1999 - Founding member/director of the North American Balloon Association


  • 1988 - Spirit of Fiesta Award - Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
  • 1993 - National Aeronautic Association - 1 of Top 10 Most Memorable Flights
  • 1994 - Shields-Trauger Award, Balloon Federation of America for most significant balloon flight
  • 1994 - Al Desmond Award for Contribution to Competitive Ballooning
  • Guest of King Hussein of Jordan for Champion of Champions Race
  • Guest of Sultan of Malaysia for 1st balloon flights ever in Malaysia
  • Federation Aeronautic Internationale Awards:
  • Silver Badge
  • Gold Badge with 2 Diamonds
  • Montgolfier Diploma - Highest International Award in Ballooning
  • 2007 - Inducted into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame

Notable achievements

  • Organized and flew in 1st Underground Balloon Glow and Competition, Marvel Cave, Branson, MO.
  • Host of 6 one-hour TV Specials on Ballooning for the Travel Channel and Outdoor Life Network
  • Driving Instructor for The Racing Experience at 14 NASCAR Tracks around the nation.

Read more about Bill Bussey (balloonist):  Biography

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Bill Bussey (balloonist) - Biography
... BillBussey worked several jobs such as an apartment manager, post office janitor, waiter, assistant private investigator, and others – before he graduated from the University of Texas with a B.S ... Busseywas strongly impressed by the graduation speech given by Dr ... Incidentally, the dean told Busseythat he would never graduate because he did not have sufficient funds for his education, and Busseysays that statement gave him even more determination ...

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