Mon, Feb 18, 2013
USA Home To Three Of Top 10, Five Of Top 20 Ranked Pilots Worldwide
Two time World Champion Johnny Petrehn of Leawood, KS is again the top ranked hot air balloon pilot in the world according to the "Hot Air Balloon World Ranking List" recently released by the Ballooning Commission of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. Petrehn has held the number one spot since 2010 having earned the top ranking after winning his second World Championship in 2010 (his first was in 2006). He retained the ranking on the basis of his Silver Medal finish at the 2012 World Championships held last summer in Battle Creek, MI.
Nick Donner of Louisville, KY is ranked number two and is the current World Champion having narrowly kept Petrehn from a repeat in the championships in Battle Creek. Donner also won silver at the 2010 World Championships.
Joe Heartsill of San Angelo, TX ranks 9th while Americans Joe Zvada and Petrehn's younger brother Paul are ranked 15th and 20th respectively.
Collectively the U.S. has 3 pilots ranked in the Top 10, 5 pilots ranked in the Top 20, more than any other nation in the world. France is second is four pilots ranked in the Top 20 but only 1 in the Top 10, Nicolas Schwarz at number ten. A total of 793 pilots from 41 nations are included on the list.
The World Ranking list was first established in 2000. It is updated whenever new results from a World Championship of World Air Games are available, generally every two years.
(Pictured L-R Joe Heartsill, Nick Donner, Johnny Petrehn. Photo by Cindy Petrehn, Courtesy Balloon Federation of America)
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