THIS FIESTA IS THE BESTA!

A group of "special shapes."
The balloons get jammed together on the launch field. 
     The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is amazing!  Although I have seen heaps of photos showing the balloons at the Fiesta, no photo can do justice to actually being here.  The Fiesta is set on a 360 acre facility and launched approximately 600 balloons this year.  In 2002 they launched 1,000 balloons to set a Guinness Record, but such a massive launching was later determined to be too dangerous to attempt again.
The start of a mass ascension.
Behind us is the first wave of balloons in the cold inflation stage.
The yellow balloon in the background has gone to "hot" inflation and is ready to launch.
After a mass ascension the sky would fill with balloons.
     The Fiesta is a 9 day event and draws almost 1 million people.  It is the largest balloon event in the world and the Fiesta allows the hoards of spectators to wander on the field amongst the balloons. (Due to possible safety concerns most American balloon festivals do not allow spectators on the launch field.)
Momma and pappa bee.
Every morning the bees would launch facing the crowd.
As they began their ascent they would turn and kiss
then they would fly next to each other to a landing field.
     Albuquerque is fortunate to have a wind pattern known as the "Albuquerque Box."  The "box" allows a pilot to take-off, travel the 4 corners of a box, and land where the pilot started.  A knowledgable pilot can change directions by finding different wind directions at different altitudes. When the "box" is working you can witness this phenomena by watching balloons passing over each other traveling in opposite directions.  This weird phenomena is unique to Albuquerque and is the reason why pilots from all over the world attend the Fiesta.
If the force is with you then the
"Albuquerque Box" is working.
     The mass ascensions which occur every morning are stunning.  The actual launch field is only 60 acres and all 600 balloons jam into this area to launch within a 1 hour period.  Since everybody is trying to launch in a relatively small area, walls of balloons are created making it feel as if you are wandering in and out of canyons of balloons as they are in various stages of inflation.  Several times we were trapped in these balloon canyons waiting for the "cold inflated" balloons to go "hot" and stand up straight from the ground allowing us to pass under the balloon.  The mass of colors, shapes and excitement of every launch must be witnessed to be fully appreciated.
Entering one of the "balloon canyons."
All balloons above have gone "hot."
     The "shapes" are the highlight of the event.  Some of the shapes included Darth Vader, Yoda, a family of bees, clowns, a stagecoach, cows, a scarecrow, a spider-pig (?!) and hundreds of other interesting shapes.  They even had a Tom Brady balloon, but they couldn't get it to fly as it could not be fully inflated...GROAN!
Kermie, Squirt and others lifting off.
Spider Pig.
     Although we never got to fly, we crewed for several balloons.  We crewed for a normal balloon named "That One," a fire hydrant named "Squirt," and frog named "Kermie," and a clown.
A group of "special shapes" preparing to launch.
One of my favorite shapes.
It appears to be a nasty piranha.
Notice the bloody finger hanging from its mouth.
     Crewing involved setting up the basket and "envelope" as well as assisting with the inflation, launching, and chasing.  I was often asked to hold open the wires attaching the basket to the envelope in order to allow the air to fill the balloon.  The only problem was that when the balloon goes from "cold inflation" to "hot" by the pilot turning on the propane burners, the 2 people holding the wires at the "throat" are dangerously close to a very intense flame.  One morning a sudden gust of wind blew the flame in my direction causing a very scary ball of fire to almost hit me in the face.  I was fortunate to still have my eyebrows after that scare.  Whew!
Nancy after a tough day of chasing our balloon-"That One."
"That One"
     2 other fantastic events were the morning and evening "glows."  A "glow" occurs in the dark before sunrise and after sunset.  After inflation the balloons remain on the ground while the propane flames cause the balloons to light up like giant candles.  We spent one evening with several friends in a Fiesta beer garden watching a "glow."  The glow was followed by a laser light show and an impressive fireworks show.

Morning Glow.
Evening Glow.
Launch of a morning glow.
     One of the highlights was camping for 13 nights with 50 other rigs.  We made tons of new friends as our group held daily happy hours in the campground, went out to dinner, or hung around in the evening watching the nightly fireworks.  We have made plans to see our new friends at other events during our winter in Arizona.  We are already looking forward to seeing them again.
New Friends.
Shirley, John, Dee Dee, Tony, Karen & Ted.
     One of the best things was the location of our campground.  Our group was located directly on a very large and popular landing site.  On several days the landing area seemed jammed with balloons. Some of the balloons that could not make the landing area actually landed on the roads in the camping area.  These balloons can be very dangerous when they are trying to land and the rigs in the campground were in constant jeopardy.  In fact, Dave and Kathy Scranton, 2 of our new friends, had the plastic casing to their roof air conditioner unit destroyed when a balloon came in too low.

This guy seemed to be wanting to land on us!
Instead he landed 10' behind our rig.
Our backyard landing spot.
All the balloons were attracted to our campground.
     The Fiesta is the best, especially when spent with the "Boomers!"  (The "Boomers" are a sub group of the Escapees RV Club.)  Now it is on to Connecticut to see family and friends.  Can't wait!
     CHEERS!!!
         

Comments

  1. Very cool, The fiesta is near the top of great things we have done since going on the road. Sad to hear Mike Liberti sold his balloon we flew with any time in ABQ and Mesa.

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  2. Great blog! We plan to follow you two on your adventures!

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  3. How amazing… and you crewed?! The photos are spectacular but the best photos are the ones where I see you looking happy, healthy and lovely as ever.

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  4. Great food and great people with awesome styling and interior. Also a great event space for cheap happy hour drinks. However, the downstairs beer selection is about as standard as it can be while upstairs can be a bit more creative.

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