Pulling strings to launch the big ones: Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta

We're up!

We’re up!

Far be it from us to pretend to be experts on what makes a successful balloon launch.  But as we said in our first post in this series, Best advice for Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta, with just a plain ol’ general admission ticket (prices here) you can stand on the launch field and watch crews fire up the big ones right before your very own eyes.

Crew power!!!

Crew power!!!

We never observed the process from start to finish.  Since it was our first experience at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, we had a hard time focusing: “Look here.  No, here.  Wait, there goes another one.  OMG!  They’ve almost got that orange one up.”  And so, we flitted — running even — to watch another and then another and another.

A crowded launch field as spectators move in to watch balloons lift off at the Special Shapes Rodeo.

A crowded launch field as spectators move in to watch balloons lift off at the Special Shapes Rodeo.

Basically, though, launches go a little like this.  You spread out the balloon on top of a tarp on top of the field. Then you (and your best friends, family, and whoever else you can conscript) tilt the basket on its side while holding the strings attached to the balloon.

Initially, you get the balloon straightened out and hold the strings attached to the balloon.

Initially, you get the balloon straightened out and hold the strings attached to the balloon.

You send up flames to heat the air and inflate the balloon — holding on, tugging, straightening.

Then you (well, some folks at least) check for tears, infirmities, places of stress, etc.

Checking the interior -- one more time!

Checking the interior — one more time!

Add air. Hold on tight.

Add air. Hold on tight.

And then you get ready for the big upturn as the hot air balloon rises, positioning the basket upright, while the crew hangs on.

When the riders climb in, they give a signal that it’s time to launch.

Waving to the crowd and crew at Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta.

Waving to the crowd and crew at Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta.

And the crowd yells.  You, however, just stand there in awe of the magic of lift-off in the early morning air!

The crowd cheers on the Wells Fargo balloon as it nears lift-off!

The crowd cheers on the Wells Fargo balloon as it nears lift-off!

Because basically that’s what we love to see — the up, up, and away part — as balloons float through the New Mexico skies to who knows where.  And you can’t take pictures fast enough!

Into the sky -- at Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta

Into the sky — at Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta

For more information:

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: balloonfiesta.com

Guest Guide 2015

About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
This entry was posted in Balloon Fiesta 2014, Boomer Travel, New Mexico, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Pulling strings to launch the big ones: Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta

  1. twobrownfeet says:

    We’ve never tried a balloon ride. Looks like a lot of fun! Loved all the pics! 🙂

  2. thatssojacob says:

    What a beautiful place to see, totally on my bucket list! The world’s most photographed event for a reason.

    By the way, you’ve been chosen as one of today’s nine blogs in That’s So Jacob’s Ninth Month Blog Challenge (http://www.thatssojacob.wordpress.com)! I challenge you to find nine blogs you find interesting and give them a comment to brighten their day…well, eight other blogs and mine 🙂 Copy this message in your comment and enjoy your new blog friends!

    • Thanks so much for including us in your Ninth Month Blog Challenge. I’ll see what I can do to spread the joy! Appreciate your taking the time to take a look at this post on Balloon Fiesta, a special event indeed!

  3. LuAnn says:

    One day we hope to get there. I was fortunate enough to help the crew and take a ride at a balloon festival in Scottsdale, AZ many years ago…great fun!

  4. These balloon events are very colorful affairs Rusha, and I’ve always wanted to attend one just for the colors and interesting shapes. Good info on how they get the balloons up. I’m sure it’s touchy business. ~James

    • Thanks so much for taking a look at this colorful, fascinating event. You are so right — it is touchy business launching these balloons. We attended two afternoon sessions, but the balloons weren’t allowed to fly, so to speak. Wind was the culprit. I’ll write about it later, but there are three flags that fly: green flag means GO, yellow flag means MAYBE, and red flag means the event has been called off for that session. So sad, but safety first.

  5. lulu says:

    I’ve only experienced this once and loved every minute of it.

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