Last Wednesday thru Saturday we got to attend 2010 AIBF – the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. We crewed for Happy Hour, and there were a handful of local Phoenix valley balloonists attending Fiesta this year as well. It’s hard to describe Fiesta in words, so there’s a gallery of photos we made — just click the image below.
Flying in a Mass Ascension, especially on Special Shapes Day, was a lifetime experience that I’ll never forget. We gently flew off the field, ascending slowly, which allowed us to take gorgeous photos of all of the special balloon shapes. The colors were a feast for the eyes, and it was a priceless opportunity to view them from the air.
Fiesta means early bedtimes and early wake-up calls. With the time zone being one hour ahead, one morning we got up at 4:30am — 3:30am Arizona time. I spent the week being pretty exhausted, but it was worth every minute. One morning after flying, instead of heading back to the hotel room for a nap, we headed up the Sandia Mountain and rode the Sandia Tram up to 10,000 feet. Then we did a two-mile hike at the top, which was quite the difference from our usual Phoenix-altitude hikes. I was panting with a racing heart just five minutes into the hike, but after setting a pace and enjoying the beauty of hiking the Sandia Mountain ridge, I soon forgot about being tired.
We won’t be able to take our own balloon up to Fiesta until we have 100 hours of flight time logged, but we’re looking forward to crewing with our friends for the next few years until we can take Sonoran Star to her first Fiesta (with us). If you ever want to see the sport of ballooning in all its glory, Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is the place to go. From the excitement of being at the pilot briefing in the dark before sunrise, to watching the Dawn Patrol balloons silently glowing their way across the field, to the exhilaration of seeing hundreds of balloons launch into the air at a Mass Ascension — it’s something to remember for the rest of your life.
I still have to get all of my video compiled into one big clip to put on YouTube — I’ll link that this weekend. Below is the gallery of photos we took on the trip.
Official Event Website: http://www.balloonfiesta.com/