We are here in Albuquerque, NM for the largest balloon gathering in the world. The number of balloons launched this morning was approximately 350. More will go up tomorrow. In 2009 the total number of balloon entries was capped at 600 due to recent growth in the city and loss of landing zones.
It is something to see. There is a riot of bright colors and thrilling balloon ascents lasting at least two hours. A wave of balloons will launch and then new crews come in with their balloons and begin the process all over again of getting a mass of nylon inflated and sent aloft.
Historical headcounts show that on any given morning there have been as many as 100,000 spectators. It is a big event for this medium sized city. Prior to the start of the Balloon Fiesta in 1972 the largest number of hot air balloons assembled in one location in the world was 19 in England.
So here is just some of what we saw and only a few of the 120 photos I took today.
This one was called When Pigs Fly
Above are three different balloons stretched out in the initial stage of preparation.
After the nylon fabric is stretched in one long line a large fan powered by a gasoline engine is used to fill the balloon with air even before the burner is turned on to heat the air trapped in the balloon.
As the balloon nears the final stage of filling one or two strong individuals hold a line attached to the top to keep the balloon from rolling side to side.
Weather permitting, I’ll have more photos from Sunday’s events.