Alan Blount International Sportsmanship Award
Established by the BFA’s Hot Air Competition Division (HACD) at the 20th FAI World Championship, the Alan Blount International Sportsmanship Award is designed to honor the memory and sportsmanship of Alan Blount winner of the 11th FAI World Hot Air Balloon Championship in 1993 and member of the CIA Competitors Subcommittee since its formation in 2000. Alan served as Chairman of this committee in 2005 and remained active until his retirement in 2009. It’s the hope of the HACD that the CIA will adopt this award to be presented to deserving individuals participating in International competition. The award is presented in recognition of the following:
1. Demonstrates an enjoyment of competitive ballooning with a proper consideration for fair play, ethics and respect
2. Demonstrates a sense of fellowship with one’s competitors
3. Exemplifies the interpersonal concepts of treating others fairly and placing the best interest of fair competition above one’s self interest
The award is not intended to be awarded annually but as actions and circumstances dictate.
The first award was presented to Nick Donner for his exemplary dedication and efforts to ensure that all Japanese competitors would be afforded an opportunity to compete in the 2012 World Championship. Nick dedicated two days before the start of the Championship that he could have used for his own event preparation. Not only did Nick volunteer unselfishly of his time, his company, Balloonpong Enterprises, served as the corporate conduit to acquire title to five Japanese balloons, register them as US aircraft and work with the FAA inspector to ensure timely registration in the US with issuance of N numbers. These were all last minute requirements of the FAA in order to permit the Japanese to participate in the Championship.
Nick was exemplary in his dedication to the mission of ensuring that all International pilots had an equal opportunity to participate in the 20th FAI World Championship.
The Rest of the Story
By Maury Sullivan
It wasn’t balloon competition as usual as my first two days as Deputy Director were filled with working with the FAA in Oklahoma City and Toledo completing a mountain of paper work to facilitate the Japanese team participating in the World Championship. The FAA had ruled that Japanese pilot licenses would not be accepted in the US because the Japanese FAA equivalent did not recognize balloons as aircraft nor did they oversee JBF, Japan’s licensing agency. We learned of this final decision about ten days before the event. In order to ensure the integrity of the World Championship and assist the Japanese pilots, I was assigned the task of coordinating the following:
1. Arrange for five Japanese pilots to receive US student pilot certificates, obtain a training flight, complete a pre-solo written test, get signed off by a US commercial pilot, complete a flight and get their student pilot license. This all happened in TWO DAYS.
2. Since the FAA didn’t recognize Japanese registered balloons, their balloons had to be sold to a US entity, registered as a US aircraft, be examined by an FAA official, US N number assigned and applied to the balloon. This happened in TWO DAYS.
Accomplishing the above was considered by many to be an impossible task. Thanks to the efforts of Nick Donner who agreed to ‘purchase’ the Japanese balloons (great price by the way) and register the aircraft in his company’s name, Balloonpong Enterprises, the US registration process was able to be completed. Nick devoted two days to this effort instead of preparing for the Championship. His dedication to this effort was phenomenal and he was recognized at the closing ceremonies with the first ever Alan Blount International Sportsmanship Award.
By the way, Yudai Fujita, one of the Japanese ‘student pilots’ finished third and secured a podium finish for his country. What a sense of pride all felt knowing that the US played a part in his ability to compete.
The United States demonstrated incredible sportsmanship throughout this effort and the entire Japanese sporting balloon community expressed their sincere thanks.