Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

ToadDate 0009.10.07.2016-NM

We arrived in Albuquerque yesterday. Anita and David Eichhorn, Stacy’s parents are hosting us. The RV is getting some additional improvements.

Anita and David own a balloon repair shop and a couple of balloons. The big event in Albuquerque in early October each year is the Balloon Fiesta, this is the 45th year that it has been held and there are well over 300 balloons here this weekend. David and Anita participate for the entire 14-day event.

The big attraction are the hot air balloons that are displayed for everyone to see and which participate in a number of events that test the skills of the pilots. David Eichhorn is one of the pilots who is participating in the events. Today, Elaine and I tagged along with Him, Anita, our son Lewis, daughter-in-law Stacy, grandkids Grady, David and Julia, and their balloon crew.

Our day was typical of what they do for two weeks.

  • The day began at 3:45 am with the alarm.
  • By 4:20 am we were on the way to the balloon field.
  • We met David’s balloon crew at about 5:00 am.
  • We arrived at the balloon field about 5:15 am.
  • We had breakfast which was provided by the Balloon Fiesta for the crews.
  • Pilot briefing was at 6:51 am
  • Dawn Patrol (a few balloons that launch just before or at dawn) was ready to launch at 6:30 am, but didn’t launch because of uncertainty with the wind.
  • David’s crew was helping him with his balloon around 7:20 am.
  • David’s Balloon launched at 7:34 am, a staggered launch with over 100 balloons.
  • We chased the balloon with the crew, the winds died over the field and the flight only lasted about 30 minutes.
  • An event of balloon skill and maneuverability was held that lasted until 10:00 am. Balloons launched from off-field around 7:00 am and needed to reach the field within the 2-hour window and pitch a bean bag at a flag and place a ring on a 30’ or so pole. At least 3 balloons managed to ring the pole of the dozens that were competing. Many balloons did not reach the field because of fickle wind conditions.
  • Lunch was tail gate fajitas, prepared by crew members, Scott was the chef.
  • We left with Lewis, Stacy and the grandkids around 1:00 pm to come home for a nap.
  • David was at the field and later at his balloon repair company until he met us for dinner at 5:00 pm.

Hot air balloons are the tourist draw to this event, over 550 balloons are here this week. Tomorrow morning (also begins at 3:45 am) will have a mass balloon launch (in waves) of around 300 balloons.

Last night at midnight several helium balloons were launched and are participating in a 3-day distance competition. The balloon that covers the most distance from the launch point in 3 days will be the winner.

Check out Stacy Higginbotham’s video on Facebook to get a view of the events leading up to today’s balloon launch.

We had so much fun today and will have even more fun tomorrow.


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