Landers Athlete of the Week: Balloon racing world champion John Petrehn

Landers Athlete of the Week: Balloon racing world champion John Pehtren
Updated: Jul. 20, 2017 at 1:17 AM CDT
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(CBS/KSLA) - SHREVEPORT -- It's a loud yet comforting roar every time John Petrehn fires up his balloon.

It only makes sense considering he's a two-time world champion at the unique sport of balloon racing. This is the type of passion has burned him inside of him as far back as he can remember.

"I'm lucky because I started when I was about three-years-old when I'd go up with my dad. I've been around ballooning my whole life," Petrehn, who now lives in Houston, said.

"It's a hobby that's turned into a job, passion and occupation. I get to fly balloons all the time, all across the country, all over the world. I love what I do so I guess that makes me successful."

Some people travel the globe for work, others for leisure. Not many people can say they do it for both.

Even fewer can say they've done it tens of thousands of feet in the air.

"Most people think we get in the balloon and fly to Japan but that's not the case. It's been fun. We got friends from all over the world.

I've flown in Australia, Japan, all over Europe. It's just a blast to go see new country sides."

For every trophy that has been racked up, it pales in comparison to the reward of brightening the faces of those watching from below.

"Balloons bring out the best in everybody. No matter where we're at, the kids wave and smile. It doesn't matter if you can't speak their language, it's all the same."

A universal feeling wherever he goes and from whatever continent may be watching.