Art and Connie's 2008-2011 Adventures travel blog

Receiving hands on training from our pilot

Albuquerque Aloft - Bringing balloons to elementary schools

Zebra and ZIT (zebra in training) on the launch field

Laying out the envelope of our balloon named Morning Star

Almost ready to go

Morning Star has risen!

A row of inflating balloons

Special Shaped balloons are most loved

More special shapes

Balloons over our trailer

Landing field near our trailer

Look familiar?

Look Out!!!

What a great way to kickoff our third year of RVing with the Albuquerque Balloon Fest. For the past 5 days we have been enjoying the company of the Escapees Boomers on the fiesta fairgrounds.

We decided that we would help crew a balloon instead of just being spectators. We began the fiesta with hands-on training at an event called Albuquerque Aloft. Before the start of the fiesta, many of the pilots take the time to bring their balloon to local elementary schools where the balloon is inflated and the kids (and their parents) get a chance to get a closeup look at the balloons. Here we learned the ins and outs of what it takes to get the balloon in the air. Our pilot was a great teacher and patiently explained the details. For him, it is a family event. Both of his sons are also balloonists and, interestingly, it was his 16 year old son who got Dad into ballooning.

Our RV is parked within ½ mile from the launch area. On Saturday, opening day, we had to be on the field by 6:15am to assist in launching the balloon. Balloons are systematically launched by launch directors called Zebras. The Zebras split the 365 balloons to be launched that day into three waves. We were part of the first way. After our balloon launched, we had no time to see many of the other balloons because we now had to ‘chase’ our balloon. This means that we had to follow (or hope to follow) the balloon as it drifts across Albuquerque. A balloon can travel more than 10 miles before it lands. Once the balloon landed it had to be deflated, loaded back onto the truck and driven back to the fairground. Then it was time for a tailgate party! It was a great learning day!

On Sunday we crewed again but got a totally different perspective. This time we were part of the line of balloons that were last to launch so we got to see nearly all the balloons take off. It was stunning!

Monday – time for a rest! We thought we would just sleep in. However at 7am, we woke up to the now-familiar sound of the balloon’s propane burner that seemed rather close to our rig. We jumped out of bed and saw the first of many balloons fly over our trailer and land in the empty field directly across from our site. Until about 10am, wave after wave of balloons landed nearby. It was yet another perspective of the event.

We’ve taken so many pictures of the event so far and we still have a week to go. It is a good thing for digital cameras!!

As you can tell, I have made a decision on sticking with the RV lifestyle. However, there won’t be any more two year plans or three year plans. We’ve decided to continue on until we get tired of it.

Stay tuned for more on our Balloon Fiesta rally!

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