Grandfather and Balloon Pilots Ignite Matt Fenster’s Passion for Competitive Ballooning | Local

Fenster, 50, of Bellevue, Nebraska, knew he wanted to compete nationally in hot air balloons when he was a member of Jaworski’s crew. With the support of Jaworski and other pilots, Fenster obtained his pilot’s license in 1994 and began to hone his skills for competition.

He competed alongside Jaworski in the national tag team competition at Battle Creek Michigan, a place that helped Fenster improve his piloting skills.

“It’s a pretty difficult place to drive because it’s very wooded and there are a lot of balloons,” he said. “It made me feel better.”

Growing up as a competitive athlete, Fenster said the sport of hot air ballooning has fueled his competitiveness.

At the 2019 U.S. National Ballooning Championship, Fenster flew the Re / Max balloon, but he will fly a new one this year.

“As ball technology changed and everyone went to these racing balls – the envelopes are shaped like a soccer ball – I bought one for a friend,” he said. .

He also said the cost of registering a commercial ball at national championships is $ 1,500 versus $ 200 for a non-commercial ball and the ability to maneuver a larger ball is more difficult.

Fenster picked up his new balloon on Friday July 9 and will fly it at a balloon rally in Iowa and the Indianola event, which he considers a pre-national competition as several national pilots will be participating. at this event.