|Written by David Levin|
|Friday, 29 May 2009 00:00|
By David Levin
In case you are wondering why I am not the Event Director for the Nationals this year, I can explain it best by telling you the story of my ballooning career and how I evolved from avid competitor to event official.
Ballooning has been a major part of my life for the last thirty-three years since I joined a friend in creating the Balloon Ranch in Colorado in 1976. In 1978 I attended my first U.S. National Championship in Indianola, Iowa and I was hooked on competition. In 1985 I won the World Championship in Battle Creek and that opened the door to international ballooning and more importantly, to friends all over the world. My skills in legal argument helped me win an all-important protest at the ’85 Worlds. Carl Stefan, who was the Jury President and CIA President, was impressed with my knowledge of the rules and he appointed me to the Rules Sub-Committee of the CIA. That appointment allowed me to attend CIA meetings since 1986 and to meet and work with competition officials from around the world. A few years later, Mark Sullivan was appointed as our CIA Delegate and he asked that I be the Alternate Delegate. I have been serving in that position ever since. My successes in Gas Ballooning and the Gordon Bennett allowed me to get to know a new group of European pilots.
In 2000 I decided that I would retire from hot-air balloon competition after the 2001 World Air Games in Seville, Spain. I had enjoyed twenty-three years of competition across the U.S. and around the world. I had a wonderful wife and five-year-old twins at home and I wanted to spend more time playing with them rather than driving around the country all summer attending competitions. That plan went by the wayside when the Competition Division was disbanded and John Davis asked me to be his Assistant Director at the U.S. Nationals in Anderson. That set me up to become Event Director at the Nationals in 2002 and I have enjoyed working in that position for the past seven years. It has been my great pleasure and given me tremendous satisfaction to direct the Nationals and create the type of competition I enjoyed in the early years. Working as Director but thinking like a competitor, I wanted to create an atmosphere where competitors competed against each other and not against the officials. I thoroughly enjoyed being an Event Director and I believe my fellow competitors liked the way I ran things.
My experience directing the Nationals and working with the CIA opened more doors for me and I was invited to be a top official at several major international events. I worked as Steward or Deputy Director at two World Championships and three European Championships. Finally, I was honored to be invited to be the Event Director for the 2008 Worlds in Austria and the 2009 World Air Games in Italy. After the Worlds in Austria, I was invited by Eric Descellier to be a Steward at the 2009 European Championship the last week in August in France. At the CIA conference in March, I committed for the job. I figured I had just enough time to get to Anderson to direct the Nationals the first week in September. Well, you all know about the best-laid plans. Anderson dropped out and Derrick Jones came to the rescue. Unfortunately for me, the Nationals will be held in Michigan the last week in August and the dates were
Maury Sullivan to the rescue. Maury has been officiating at balloon events since 1986 and was very involved with NABA. I met Maury many years ago and I knew he would be a great member of our team at the Nationals. I invited him to join us last year in Anderson as Safety Officer, knowing he would be a great candidate to possibly take over as the Director in the future. Well the future came all to soon for me and I’m delighted that Maury will be running the Nationals this year. He has the skills, knowledge and temperament to be a great Director. I wish him good luck and I won’t complain if I don’t get my old job back. Maybe he’ll invite me to be Jury President next year (hint-hint).
|Last Updated on Thursday, 28 May 2009 21:34|