Saturday, October 11, 2008

Balloon Fiesta!

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Click for Larger Image of BalloonWe made it to the Balloon Fiesta! We are parked about a mile from the fiesta grounds, so a lot of folks are walking there for the events. That's a little beyond my abilities right now (although I am walking around the rig without a cane and only limping a little), so I needed to take the shuttle buses to get to the field. This has been the most frustrating part of the festival -- there are no official shuttle stops (just flag-'em down!), there are too few buses serving the campground for the return in the evening, and signage leaves a lot to be desired. But that's the only bad thing -- the rest of the fiesta has been wonderful.

Click for Larger Image of Glowdeo BalloonsWe took the shuttle to the field for the nighttime "Special Shapes Glowdeo" -- the "character" shapes are inflated, but remain tethered, and lighted with the propane burners so they softly glow. There were all sorts of shapes -- to mention just a few, a flying pig, a witch, a cactus, a castle, a monkey, an alien, the Energizer Bunny, an eagle, the Orient Express (complete with its own train whistle), and, oddly, the Brandenburg Gate!

Click for Larger Image of AscensionThe next morning, we were able to see the ascension right from the campground. We were in the middle of multiple ascension sites, so we could see some balloons take off and drift away from us, while others flew directly over us. The special shapes took off first, then the more traditional teardrop-shaped balloons.

Yesterday was not all good news, however -- one balloon, a special shape that looked like an upside down pyramid, ran into power lines. The basket caught on fire, and the co-pilot was killed. The pilot is in the hospital with serious injuries. We did not witness the accident -- it was several miles away, but we did see the balloon take off with the other special shapes. Balloon accidents are rare when compared to the number of hours flown, but when they do happen the basket occupants have little protection and are often badly hurt or killed.

Click for Larger Image of Special ShapesClick for Larger Image of Inflating Balloon Click for Larger Image of Inflating BalloonsClick for Larger Image of Glowdeo Ballons Click for Larger Image of Launching Balloon


Richard said...

Wow -- what great photos of the ballons. Colors are wonderful. Glad you made it out of Colorado -- it was close from what I can tell from the weather reports. Must be living right!!

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Szaroletta said: I and my son Bill and 2 granddaughters were also at the Balloon Festival on Friday morning! It is glorious to see the different shapes and colors. Dawn told me that you were to be in Alb also; it would have been great to bump into each other! I love the area. Bill and Lisa live in NE Alb (I think). More later. Keep up the travels!