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About Thurston Classic

Maury’s interest in ballooning dates to 1981 and has included sport and competitive ballooning as well as running a commercial balloon contract. Maury initiated the establishment of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival Enshrinement Balloon Classic in 1986, served as the event chairman from 1986 to 1988 and served as the event’s Competition Director in all but four years. Maury has a commercial rating and has logged more than 850 hours.

Crewing at four US Nationals and participating in all US Teams events as an official competitor have fostered Maury’s interest in the competitive aspects of hot air ballooning. Maury and his teammates placed third in the 1999 US Teams and Maury was recognized as Rookie of the Year at the 2000 NABA US Nationals in Canton, Mississippi. During his active competitive career, Maury was a consistent top twenty pilot in the NABA National Ranking system ranking 12th (2005); 21 st (2003); 8th (2002); and, achieving his highest ranking of 2nd in 2001. Maury was selected by the BFA’s Hot Air Competition Division to serve as the Event Director for the 2009, 2010,2016 and 2017 US National Hot Air Balloon Championships.

While Maury has found competitive flying both instructional and rewarding, he still finds his fondest balloon memories in “Fiesta-type” flying. He flew in the first balloon event in the Soviet Union in 1990, which took place in Leningrad (S1. Petersburg), USSR. On one memorable flight, he flew his balloon “Glasnost” less than 500 feet over a Soviet Mig air base and, yes, has photos. Not far behind in the most memorable flights category was flying from Canada to the US while seemingly skimming directly over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. In February 2005 Maury participated in the NOBPA winter Long Jump. This is a flight designed to challenge the pilot and crew in a long-distance flight. This was Maury’s first real attempt at such a flight and he flew a total of 178 miles in a flight lasting three hours and forty-eight minutes.

Eclipsing his travels to the USSR and flying over Niagara Falls was his life-altering experience of traveling to Tibet and spending two weeks with the Dalai Lahma. Maury and the Dalai became best of friends and, in exchange for a balloon ride, the Dali bestowed one of life’s greatest treasurers on Maury - he was promised “total consciousness” on his deathbed. Maury and his wife have been heavily involved in organizing and officiating at several balloon events annually over the past ten years. He has served as chairman of the BFA and Holiday Balloon Fest joint planning committee for the 2012 World Hot Air Balloon Championship.

Maury has been involved with the Northeast Ohio Balloon Pilot’s Association (NOBPA) since 1982 and served as its Treasurer in 1997 and 1998 and as its President in 2000. Maury and Lynn served as chairmen of NOBPA’s annual Safety Seminar, Balloonowledge from 2002-2004 and Maury has organized the educational programming for the 2008 BFA National Convention.

Through his long friendship with Bob Zanella and Ted Watts, Maury has been involved with the Thurston Classic since its inception. With the passing of Bob in 2010, Maury was proud to take over for his mentor and serve as Balloonmeister for the Thurston Classic for all years since 2010 with the exception for 2016 when his oldest daughter was married that weekend. Maury and Lynn missed the Classic but said it was an easy choice.

Schedule of Events

Thursday, June 15: The Joyce Stevens Memorial Night Glow (see section below)

Friday Night, June 16, Timbercreek Tap & Table Hare & Hound Task, 6:30 p.m.: The VIP Flight will begin at approximately 6:15 p.m. All balloons will inflate on the launch field and follow a balloon designated the “Hare” to a target that the hare decides upon. They will then attempt to throw a baggie on the target. Food and souvenirs will be available.


Saturday Morning, June 17, Sanctioned Race #1, 7:00-8:30 a.m.: This race will begin with balloons taking off from a launch site of their own choosing and attempt to fly over the launch field, throwing a baggie at the target on the launch field.

Saturday Night, June 17, Sanctioned Race #2, 6:30 p.m.: This race will begin with balloons inflating and launching before attempting to throw baggies at targets located at various sites. Food and souvenirs will be available.

Sunday Morning, June 18, Sanctioned Race #3, 7:00 - 8:30 a.m: This race will begin with balloons taking off from a launch site of their own choosing and attempting to fly over the launch field while throwing a baggie at the target on the launch field.

Night Glow

The Joyce Stevens Memorial Night Glow kicks off the 29th Annual Thurston Classic on June 15. It takes place on the launch field at the Robertson Sports Complex on Park Avenue Extension.

Food and souvenirs will be sold starting at 6:00 P.M. The 4-Jays band of Erie will begin performing at 7:30. At 9:00, nine balloons will be illuminated on the launch field at Allegheny College Robertson Field Sports Complex.