Hundreds of beautiful, colorful hot air balloons of various shapes and sizes and from across the world are going to lift off this weekend for the beginning of the 44th yearly Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
It is a nine-day long fiesta and is among the world’s most photographed events. It will start on Saturday, when with the sun rises, wave after wave of balloons will be taken to the sky as part of the first mass ascension.
Scott Appelman, a veteran pilot and founder of the balloon ride company Rainbow Ryders Inc, said, “Having 550 hot air balloons up in the air at once, that just doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. So this is, absolutely without a doubt, the Super Bowl of hot air ballooning”.
In the evening, there will be special shape rodeos, balloon glows, flying competitions, a cross-country gas balloon race, and splash-and-dash flights along the Rio Grande.
For this year’s fiesta, over 100 ‘special shapes’ balloons have been registered, ranging from the well known kissing bees and a huge spotted cow to a saguaro wearing sunglasses, a bright red stagecoach and a Darth Vader helmet. The special shapes rodeo was started in the fiesta in 1989 with only 28 shapes. The event quickly took a favorite spot.
One of the main attractions of the balloon fiesta is the ability of spectators to walk around the city’s 72-acre balloon park for getting a glimpse of the morning mass ascensions.
There are a number of factors that have made Albuquerque in October the perfect place for fiesta. The factors include naturally clear skies, cool mornings, the ‘box’, which is referred to the scene created by the mountains bordering the city’s east side, and weather patterns.
“It ultimately becomes a work of art,” Richardson said.
“It’s rip stop nylon, it’s very similar to a jacket or a wind breaker, only its got a special coating on it that lowers the porosity so there’s no air that transfers through the fabric,” Richardson explained. “It meets a military specification, which is required for all of our FAA inspections and certifications.”