1981 - Battle Creek, Michigan, hosted the 5th World Hot-Air Balloon Championship. Pilots from 23 different countries were represented, and the event drew nearly one million spectators to marvel over the beautiful array of 195 hot-air balloons. "Because of the overwhelming success of the 1981 World's Championship, Battle Creek decided to again submit a bid to host the 7th World Hot-Air Balloon Championship which took place in June of 1985. Only one other city in the United States has been chosen to host the World's Championship more than once.
1983 - Again, as a result of being the host city for the 1981 World's Championship, the decision was made to host the North American Challenge Cup in July of 1983. This championship was a competition between Canada and the United States. Unlike the World's, which is a week-long event, this event was for one weekend. The enthusiasm from the pilots, officials, spectators, volunteers, and the people of Battle Creek grew! This event was a success not only from the participants' viewpoint but also from the organizers' as it helped them prepare for the World's.
1985 - The 7th World Hot-Air Balloon Championship. Pilots from 21 countries were represented, and over one million spectators joined in the festivities. The World Hot-Air Balloon Championship is the most prestigious event in hot-air ballooning, and those pilots who make up the roster of competitors are considered the "best" from their respective countries.
After another successful World Championship, the Board of Directors of Battle Creek Hot-Air Balloon Championships, Inc., decided that ballooning should become an annual event in Battle Creek.
Therefore, in 1985 they submitted a bid to obtain the U.S. National Balloon Championship. This championship is held strictly for United States pilots, and pilots must have the proper credentials in order to participate. Plus, pilots must compete in the Nationals in order to receive an invitation to participate in the World's.
The Nationals had been held in Indianola, Iowa, for years; and the interest in being the new "host" city was sparked when the board learned that Indianola's contract with the BFA (Balloon Federation of America) was up. Battle Creek Hot-Air Balloon Championships Inc. sent five delegates to Des Moines, Iowa, where they met with the BFA Events Committee and thoroughly explained the contents of our bid and intentions to host this event yearly.
After their return from the bid proposal meeting in Des Moines, Battle Creek received word that it would be the new host city for the U.S. Nationals. However, a few days after that, they learned that because of internal discrepancies among the BFA Board of Directors and the BFA Events Committee, a vote by the entire BFA membership would have to take place to determine the site of the U.S. Nationals. The Board of Directors of Battle Creek Hot-Air Balloon Championships, Inc., decided to withdraw the bid to obtain the U.S. Nationals because it appeared a decision from the BFA would not be made in time to adequately organize an event of this magnitude.
1987-1994 - As a result, the decision to create a standalone event was made, which would offer the best in competition; prize money; free housing accommodations for pilots and observers; and be an event that would attract hundreds of thousands of spectators to the City of Battle Creek for days of family fun and excitement. Thus, the Battle Creek International Balloon Championship and Air Show began in July of 1987.
1992 - Battle Creek submitted a bid to host the 1995 World Hot-Air Balloon Championships and successfully achieved the support from the Competition Division of the BFA (Balloon Federation of America). Battle Creek, Michigan would now become the only city to ever host the world event three (3) times. (The last World Championship held in the United States was in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1985.). Air Show wise, 1992 saw the Italian Jet team, the Freece Tri Colore, perform in Battle Creek as part of their 1992 North American Tour.
1995 - Thirty two (32) countries were represented at the 12th World Hot-Air Balloon Championship. The World Championship is the most prestigious hot-air balloon event in the "world." Competitors vied for the title of 'World Champion' and the fiesta pilots competed for $10,000.00 in prize money. This eight (8) day event "(July 1-8, 1995) drew over 900,000 spectators.
1996 - Hundreds of balloon pilots and a million plus spectators made the Battle Creek Hot-Air Balloon Championship and Air Show an 'annual' stop. The World Balloon Invitational of Battle Creek was held June 29 - July 6, 1996. This success carries over into 1997 when the event becomes the Team U.S. Nationals & Air Show with amazing attendance numbers.
1999, 2000, 2002, 2005 & 2006 - Battle Creek was one of the only air shows in the nation to host both the United States Air Force Thunderbirds & Canadian Forces Snowbirds on the same day during so many events. The Snowbirds were also supposed to perform at the event in 2001, but due to an accident a week prior to the airshow, they had to cancel.
2003 - After years of being known as the "Team U.S. Nationals & Air Show", the event became known as the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival. This name change came about because the event incorporates a lot more than just air shows and hot-air balloons.
2006 - Battle Creek becomes a part of air show history as the T-6A Texan II East Coast Demonstration Team performs their FINAL airshow performance & Texan Flight on July 4th, 2006.
2007 - The United States Navy Blue Angels make their Battle Creek demonstration debuts. They performed a flyover during the event in 1998. The famed F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter makes its last appearance in Battle Creek before retirement.
2010 - The US Air Force's NEWEST Fighter, the F-22 Raptor, makes its Michigan Airshow debut. The event draws in over 179,000 people during 4 days.
2011 - The US Navy Blue Angels return to Battle Creek, bringing a US military precision jet team back to the event for the first time since 2009. The first ever "Field of Rock" concert bash is held on June 30th.
2012 - The US Air Force Thunderbirds return for the first time since 2009 and become Honorary Citizens of the City of Battle Creek. The event is plagued with severe heat in a record setting temperature summer. However, most balloon flights launch without a hitch. The "Field of Rock" name is adopted for Center Stage Concerts and is presented by FireKeepers Casino.
2013 - The event runs July 3rd-7th (Wednesday-Sunday). The first day of the event became designated as Community Kick-Off Day and featured American Idol Matt Giraud in concert. The first three nights of the event see massive attendance levels compared to normal. Sequestration hits the air show forcing the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet Demo Team to cancel their appearance. The show continues with a TOP-NOTCH civilian lineup that pleased all patrons. All-in-all, the event exceeded expectations in a rough year.
2014 - July 2nd - 6th. Great crowds, great fans and great reviews helped define the 2014 event. The event sees the return of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and a three-day air show featuring some of the best civilian acts in the world today. The Night Air Show, held on July 5th, becomes the largest night air show ever held in Battle Creek. The United States Navy Blue Angels make a surprise appearance on July 6th, flying over the airfield and the US Air Force Thunderbirds. This marked the Field of Flight as the ONLY public event in 2014 that had both jet teams appear in their skies on the same day. The Balloon Competition features pilots from the United States, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom. Beautiful weather holds out for the week, allowing everyone to have a great time.
2015 -The 35th Anniversary of the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival pulled in amazing crowd numbers during the five day festival. Between beautiful weather and an amazing event schedule, patron numbers in the six figures come out and enjoy the event. The 2015 event was the only air show in Michigan to host the F-22 (and the first event in Michigan to host the demo team twice). Other standouts include The Immortals along with Firewalkers International Pyro, two fireworks displays and great weather favoring the balloon launches.
2016- The next 35 years begin NOW! Now expanded to six days of family fun, help us write history as we plan to make this the BEST Field of Flight yet! Make sure you mark your calendars now for June 29th-July 4th and come out as often as you can! Interested in becoming a sponsor? CONTACT US TODAY!