It’s Amazing! That is what we said over and over again at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.
We decided a year ago to meet Art and Beth at the Fiesta and coordinated arrival so we were parked side by side. Beth arranged a balloon flight and had a great time. We paid big bucks to fly over Lake Tahoe previously so didn’t plan to do so again.
Friends Gerry and Kathy are balloon crew and Fiesta veterans. They advised, encouraged and provided opportunities and experiences that we never expected. Kathy was a fount of information about individual balloons and Gerry knew everything about the science of it all. They helped make the Fiesta an amazing experience
Through them we met Cheryl, a balloon pilot and instructor. She is also a member of the Fiesta Board of Directors. In addition to providing entry passes, Cheryl told us stories about security, sponsorship, statistics, volunteering and the design process for their balloon Twisted.
Her husband, Fred, is the pilot for Twisted, the balloon Gerry and Kathy crew for. We were invited to come out and crew.
The process looks complicated to a novice. A dozen people were preparing Twisted for flight.
Randy had the job others didn’t want when it’s cold outside – standing in front of the fans for the initial inflation process!
Art, happily babysitting Elko while Randy and I crewed, noticed Twisted heading toward a nearby field and walked over. Elko found his dad in the balloon!
We spent two amazing mornings sitting at our campsite watching waves of balloons come over us. With 550+ balloons at the Fiesta, we were always noticing one we hadn’t seen before!
Special shapes are fun! Next time we will plan to be there on special shapes day!
Enjoy the night glow video!
We enjoyed learning about the America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race, one of only two distance races for gas balloons in the world. The America’s Challenge was founded in Albuquerque in 1995. The balloons are white to lessen the impact of heating and cooling and filled with hydrogen, the lightest of gases.
Balloons launch consecutively from the same stage holding two pilots, oxygen, and all the gear needed for a 3-4 day flight. They have sand and water ballast.
Balloon routes were available on the Festival App and we monitored the race many times each day!
At the Balloon Museum we learned about the first balloon flight in France with a crew of a duck, sheep and rooster. We learned about a failed attempt to land in the arctic and the beginnings of the Albuquerque Fiesta. We learned about milestone flights across the country, across the Pacific, across the Atlantic and around the world. We learned about balloons used in warfare.
We experienced another amazing thing away from the Fiesta grounds – a Musical Highway. We traveled east of Albuquerque on Route 66. Once there, Randy drove on the rumble strip at exactly 45 miles per hour and we heard America the Beautiful. A video from youtube is here. Other Musical Highways are in Japan, South Korea and Denmark. The only other Musical Road in the US, is in Lancaster, California, playing the William Tell Overture. We’ll get there!
So much is amazing!