Monday, October 12, 2015

Balloon crew, briefly


On Friday morning, we watched the Shape Derby event of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. We're fortunate to have the world's largest hot-air ballooning event right here in our city every year, with nine days of ballooning events and a sky full of balloons every morning, weather permitting. The Shape Derby event is meant to highlight the hot-air balloons that are designed to look like something - the shape balloons, if you will. There were more regular balloons than shaped ones, which is always the case, but the shapes are always interesting - a scarecrow, a pig, a chicken, a cartoonish policeman. Darth Vader and Yoda often make appearances. We like to watch the mass ascensions from a city park on high ground. Come along with us!


It's usually pretty busy in the park. We arrive early and stake out a place to stand. It's cold in the early morning so we wear sweaters. The crowd grows quickly, as people fill in on the soccer fields and along the ridge at the highest point of the park (we have our backs to it in this photo). We like to stand sort of in the middle, close enough to the field in case a balloon lands there, but high enough to see everything. We bring cameras and binoculars and we walk (or run) around to keep warm while we watch. We're facing west here; the balloons launch from Balloon Fiesta Park, which is located near the Rio Grande. The balloons come up toward the east, for the most part, but they can spread out in any direction and can land just about anywhere. During Balloon Fiesta, balloon chase crews are a common sight all over the city, usually large pick-up trucks pulling trailers where the balloons are stored when they are not in use.


Some balloons will float right over us as we stand watching. You can see the flames and hear the gusts of hot air. This one was low enough that we were talking to the people in the basket!


This balloon had been traveling eastward when it started descending. It doubled back to land in the park and we were amazed to watch it sink lower and lower, aimed at the soccer fields in the park, just a few hundred yards from where we were standing. We were soon able to wave to the people in the basket. We could see them crouching low as it came down...


 Going...


 Going...


Gone. We all ran down to check it out. Everyone in the park ran toward it from different directions and there was soon a crowd on the field.


The basket landed on its side, which is normal. Everyone got out just fine, and the pilot took some time to talk to kids who had gathered around, explaining how he made the balloon land.


These are the burners that create the hot air to inflate the balloon. They gave off a lot of heat, even after landing.


This is the balloon as it looks deflated. It's basically a big bag made of thin fabric. Look at the background; there was another balloon landing just beyond the soccer fields at the same time. I think it was the pirate balloon you can see in this balloon's landing photos (scroll up). We left the crew to pack up their balloon, having seen another balloon getting ready to land at the top of the hill. We started running up there, but I was too slow to get a photo.


By the time I got up there, this is what I saw: the balloon had landed and the crew was letting the hot air out of the "bag." My Bears were all up there and they were all talking at once, telling me what they'd seen with this landing. They'd been within feet of this one, which was pretty thrilling.


We were all just standing around checking out the balloon when the Bear, who helps everyone, asked if he could help the crew. They said yes! They handed him the balloon strings to help release the hot air.


I took the opportunity to walk around and see what the balloon looked like as it deflated. It reminded me of a sail, or sheets on a clothesline. It was billowy and swishy as it deflated. The crew members were working hard to get it emptied of air and flattened out for storage. It basically gets sucked into another bag that goes into a big carrying basket. The Bear helped with this too; the carrying basket was heavy enough to require six or seven strong people, who carried it to the crew's waiting truck. Next, they carried the passenger basket, which took even more hands. He helped with that too; they gave him a very nice enameled lapel pin, a replica of their balloon, to say thanks.


This man is the pilot/owner. He is British, and comes to Albuquerque every year for the Balloon Fiesta. He was a very talkative and gregarious person who was delighted to talk about ballooning. We learned that his balloon is called "That One."


The LB held his dad's camera and a set of binoculars while the Bear helped pack up the balloon. He took about a million photos. They say the Balloon Fiesta is the most photographed event in the world; might as well start early.


Before they left, the crew gave this card to any children standing nearby. Every balloon crew has these cards for their own balloon and kids like to collect them. The small Bears added "That One" to their small collections of balloon cards, which they display on their bedroom bulletin boards. They were excited to get so close to a balloon and to watch their dad help with it too! We all agreed it was our most interesting Balloon Fiesta experience yet.

44 comments:

  1. Hi Jennifer! Aw, that looks like SO MUCH fun!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great event. I can see the LB watching his dad hold those balloon strings, he'll be helping too before long. We sometimes see balloons above our house, one or perhaps two at a time, I can't imagine so many at once.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Such great pictures, Jennifer. I love watching hot air balloons. And how fantastic for the children to enjoy seeing them so close too!
    Helen xox

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very cool, I've heard of this - but never seen it before. Looks like a great weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  5. How fun is that?!!!! One day I want to experience that too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a wonderful fiesta to have so close to home. The pictures are amazing. How interesting to be able to watch a balloon landing too.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a great event to attend, I love the idea of the little cards they hand out x

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a fun day! The pictures are great. I would love to take pictures all day of those balloons.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's such a big event it even made our BBC news! Must be quite something to see in person.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What an exciting event. Glad the little ones experienced it too. Jo x

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is so cool! I would love to see something like that.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm so glad you are so near this event, able to enjoy it, and share your personal experience with us, Jennifer! Thanks for another very special post. xx

    ReplyDelete
  13. How EXCITING! I love your description of watching them and how you helped out. Have you ever been in one? A group of my friends gave me a flight for my 30th birthday present and it was completely thrilling. It must have been such a sight seeing so many at once.

    ReplyDelete
  14. So many balloons! After watching them at our local county show recently, E wanted to go up in one for her 18th birthday - fortunately for my acrophobia, they don't fly them in the winter months! How exciting to be able to help with it all too - definitely a day to remember. xx

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a wonderful experience. I love how they handed out the cards and a pin for the Bear as well, such a great idea. Ballooning is quite popular round here too. There's a big balloon factory in Bristol, and we often watch balloons going up from the park in Bath, a beautiful Georgian city near here. It must be amazing to see all the fantastic architecture from the sky. There's a big balloon festival in Bristol every year (our nearest city), but not as big as yours, it's absolutely fantastic. And a really great tradition for your family every year. CJ xx

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a fun day, and everything is so colouful.

    Hope your week is going well.

    All the best Jan

    ReplyDelete
  17. What a fun day, and everything is so colouful.

    Hope your week is going well.

    All the best Jan

    ReplyDelete
  18. I've seen pictures of this in the news, and would love to see it in person. It's great that your hubby got to help, and so fun for the little bears to be a part of it too!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I've GOT to get out there some year to see this!!!! We came really really close to a balloon ride when we were in Kenya....got up at 5 am, drove out to the launching place, watched the balloon being inflated, and we were just about to get in the basket when they decided the wind was too strong. Guess no one wanted us landing among the lions! A near miss. :( (it's another bucket list thing!!!)

    ReplyDelete
  20. oh wow - such fun!! my boys would have loved to experience the whole event.

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a brilliant day. How fabulous to be so close to a landing too. Have you ever been up? We've been to festivals in Sussex, it is amazing when you see so many in close proximity. I imagine it's quite a skill to navigate a balloon safely.

    ReplyDelete
  22. What an amazing day, such a great experience for you all. I have actually been up in a hot air balloon at a festival many years ago, I have to admit I was frightened but none the less an experience that I will never forget.

    ReplyDelete
  23. How exciting, I can imagine how wonderful the balloons must look in the magical countryside of New Mexico. It sounds like a really fun day for the little bears, and the big bears too :))

    ReplyDelete
  24. What an incredible experience, Jennifer! The sight of all those colourful balloons, the sound of the hot air keeping the balloon afloat, and getting to help pack one up. A perfect day, and one to remember!

    ReplyDelete
  25. This is amazing! I haven't seen a balloon launch like this since I was a teenager. I need to look and see if there are any going on around here any time soon. My kids would love it!

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is amazing! I haven't seen a balloon launch like this since I was a teenager. I need to look and see if there are any going on around here any time soon. My kids would love it!

    ReplyDelete
  27. This looks like so much fun Jennifer! Your post also awakes long forgotten memories of an afternoon of 'helping' deflate a hot air balloon that had landed on a field near my childhood home. Thank you. x

    ReplyDelete
  28. What a wonderful experience! I love hot air balloons. Thank you for great post and beautiful pictures.xx

    ReplyDelete
  29. Awesome! I know I've seen a balloon festival before but for the life of me can't remember where or when. Maybe when I was little on family vacation? Looks like it was a very exciting day for sure! The balloons all look so pretty floating up in that lovely blue sky.

    ReplyDelete
  30. How lucky you are to have such a neat festival near you. My guy is like Bear, always helping out. It's so good for the kids to see that in their dad. Nice of those people to give him a pin in appreciation. My sister has gone to that festival a few times and they get the most amazing photos. Last time they went UP in one, too! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

    ReplyDelete
  31. How exciting and a wonderful event to share together with your family! We had a small balloon festival in the small town we lived in before moving here. It was a 2-day event, much smaller scale than yours, but 9 times out of 10, it was too windy on one of the days....Yuma gets a lot of wind! It was fun to see though! We will soon start seeing balloons around here, as the weather finally starts cooling a bit. There are a lot of hot air balloon companies that take people out over the desert. We often have them flying very low over our house, which is always fun to see! Thanks so much, Jennifer, for sharing your beautiful photos of this event!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Beautiful balloons, beautiful sky..such an exciting adventure. How special for those darling Little Bears..and of course for the Mama and Papa. Thank you so much for the lovely photos.

    ReplyDelete
  33. What an exciting event to have every year. We don't have anything like that where I live.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Wow, what an amazing sight and what a fantastic experience! I have nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award. Please don't feel you have to do it as I know time is precious but I wanted you to know how much I enjoy your blog. You can find my post here
    https://creativityandfamily.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/where-do-i-start/
    Sharon x

    ReplyDelete
  35. That is very cool!! They have one in Augusta, Maine, which is sort of close to me. But, it's so crowded that I have never gone. How cool is it that there is one so close to you.

    ReplyDelete
  36. This looks like so much fun! Thank you for sharing your day with us, it sounds just wonderful. What a fascinating and memorable family day out for you all - your kids will always remember this. x

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hey Jennifer,
    There is an annual balloon feista in my home town of Bristol. In fact I grew up in Bedminster, the area of Bristol that the Cameron Balloon company has its' factory. I like to visit my family at this time of year. Olly loves watching the balloons float past my sisters' house, as she lives close to where they ascent. He would have been thrilled to hace had the same experience that yoyr little bears did. It must have been so exciting for them!
    Leanne xx

    ReplyDelete
  38. I was in a balloon race once a million years ago, it was so fascinating to run and jump in the basket and then go up in the air, fly across the land and then land in a field, then rapidly jump out and run across a field of cows to the next landing place. Love that the bears are getting to experience this.
    Meredith

    ReplyDelete
  39. that's so great!!! we sometimes see a couple of balloons crossing the sky, but never as many balloons as there...

    ReplyDelete
  40. We were in New Mexico about 7 years ago. We flew into Albuquerque for a family reunion in Santa Fe. Driving back from Santa Fe we saw al these beautiful balloons floating in the air. What a thrill that was!! You are so lucky! Have a grand weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  42. What a fun experience. There is something very romantic about ballooning. Thanks for linking up!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...