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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Flights of silence

WOW!  A spectacular sight!

From Albuquerque New Mexico, the 44th annual Balloon Fiesta started October 3.  This nine-day even draws thousands to watch the 1000-plus balloons that ascend into the sky at dawn.  This event started in a mall parking lot and now calls a 72-acre balloon park home.  A wide array of flying competitions are included today, such as cross country races, splash and dash flights across the Rio Grande and lighted balloon evenings.

 This shot shows you how big these balloons are
This is a photographer’s dream and an amazing sight to see so many colorful balloons in the air at one time.  If you’re interested in ballooning, click on this link to read more about this festival.

 The balloons start out flat on the ground

 This is my photo taken from behind glass, so it's not real clear.  This is how they blow the hot air in to start with - a torch and big fans

Here is another shot once the balloon is lifted off the ground.
And another of the flame.
My own experience in a hot air balloon was awesome once I got over the fright of being way up in the air standing in a tiny container called a gondola.  This brown woven basket ended at about my waist, exposing my entire upper half to the open air.  Beside me in the basket were three large gas cylinders to power the balloon and above my head was a massive colorful balloon of hot air holding us up there and the flame that would ignite to keep us afloat.  The only sound was that flame.  The silence was incredible.  I was in awe of the fact that there are bands of air currents n the sky.  The direction the balloon goes is driven by the amount of gas it receives, thus raises it or lowering it to catch different air currents.  Fascinating.

 Balloons in the air.  I love all the colors!
My host and pilot did his best to make me feel comfortable and at ease.  He told me about getting his ballooning license.  Then he laid a handkerchief over the basket.  I knew it would be blown away within seconds, probably landing in some tree or the on the ground below.  To my surprise, it never fluttered or moved because we were moving with the wind.  That realization was mind blowing for me, as I always thought the wind blew the balloon along, but it’s more scientific than that.

Once I got over my fright, I was able to enjoy taking pictures with my 110 camera.  This was way before digital, so all my photos are in a box and I hope they’re still good since they’ve been stored for years.

 This is really a feast for the eyes.
I borrowed all the photos I posted here from the actual Albuquerque Balloon Festival.  I do have four of my own framed and hanging in my bathroom.  Those pictures are marked separately.

If you ever do this, beware it’s an early morning event as the air is better for lift off.  I did this in February and it was quite chilly before sunrise.  Do take advantage of walking around to see the science behind lifting these gigantic silent flyers into the air.  First, the crew spreads out the fabric, and then they use big blowers to push enough air into the balloons to raise them.  At this point, they light the heater and the balloon raises enough to stand up and tower way over a human’s head.  Someone has to tether the ropes until lift off.  Once the basket is loaded, it’s up, up and away, bringing back visions of the Wizard of Oz. 

 Here's another of my photos taken behind glass again, so sorry for the glare and haziness.
I enjoyed the vastness of the landscape below me as we towered over the treetops and cars looks like ants below.  The Pacific Ocean spread out to my left.  My bird’s eye view was spectacular, tranquil, and peaceful. 

 Another of my photos taken from behind glass
A chase vehicle followed us to bring us back to the take off site.

Landing can be a bit of a bumpy ride, but ballooning should be on everyone’s bucket list.


  1. Wow. That sounds fascinating. But it won't be on my bucket list. I have a thing about heights. Great pics.

    1. Liz,

      I have a thing about heights too and believe me I was scared shitless at first. But I'm glad I did it.

      Thanks for reading.


  2. When we lived in Santa Fe, we went to the balloon festival down in Albuquerque one year. It was fun to be up close and personal so to speak with the balloons and so many of them :) But I'm like Liz; I'm not fond of heights so I'll enjoy watching them from the ground :) Good for you though going up in one!


  3. Betty,

    You have to challenge your fears annd conquer them once in a while. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.



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