The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta event was from Saturday October 4th through Sunday October 12th with over 800,000 attendees and 548 balloons registered – 28 of them being from 22 different countries and 106 were in the special shapes balloon category. EXHIB-IT! participated by sponsoring the Check Ride Balloon with Pilot Ryan Lowenstein. The event was a success and we flew all but two days that were due to high winds or rain. Check Ride participated in three balloon glows.
During the mass ascensions on Saturday, Sunday (cancelled due to winds), Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday (cancelled due to wind gusts), the balloons launched in two waves with launches that started as early as 7 Am and continued flights way past 10 Am for all to see. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday were competitive flight days that competing balloons would launch 1.0 mile from balloon fiesta field and fly over field and to target areas to compete. All non-competition balloons, along with special shape balloons, would take off from the fiesta field.
I invited Susan Riedel,Campaigner for upcoming election for Attorney General, to the Balloon Fiesta on Friday Evening and Saturday Morning of the second weekend of Fiesta, She enjoyed taking part in the Balloon Fiesta with all its beauty and was able to meet and greet with the attendees. We had a wonderful time and I enjoyed getting to know her and her assistant, Colt Balok.
Having been a balloon fiesta pilot for 17 years and this year was a balloon sponsor, it was much different for me being on the ground for all flights. While I enjoyed sponsoring a balloon and being a crew member for the Check Ride Balloon, it was both surreal and enjoyable. Yes, I miss flying and this was my first balloon fiesta without piloting a balloon, but I also got to sit back and enjoy chasing the balloon and navigating the streets to be there before the balloon would land. I always loved navigational flights and testing my ability to see what the winds were doing at different altitude levels and challenge myself as a Pilot to tell my crew where I planned to land at takeoff. Now I got to challenge myself as a crew member to navigate the streets while watching the winds to determine wind direction for where I thought Check Ride would land. That was fun!
On Saturday, October 11th, family and friends attended the Music Fiesta with band County Road 5, followed by a performance by Band Sawyer Brown then came Josh Turner, one of country music’s most recognized face with numerous CMA and Grammy award nominations. What a treat it was to be out of the field, hang with family and friends, soaking up the bright sunshine and listening to awesome music. The music festival ended with the start of the Balloon Glow. The winds picked up somewhat and the Glow had a few balloons that participated, including Check Ride with the Large EXHIB-IT! banner displayed proudly on the balloon. The evening ended with Fireworks for all.
Now the Balloon Fiesta is over and lots of memories were made with family and friends along with meeting Pilots and Crew from other countries. Anyone who has not attended the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta should consider attending next year and save the dates: October 3-10, 2015! Hope to see you there and enjoy the photos taken by Steve Chavez of Zia’s Studios, Edgerton, Wisconsin. He may even sell you some of his great photos – call him at 773-612-4231.