So other than getting up at 5am again, it was a pretty amazing day at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF). Thursday morning, the wind cooperated so it was a near perfect balloon morning. All the morning events got off with out a hitch and there were so many balloons in the air it was hard to know where to look.
Listening to the morning pilot’s briefing I learned why Albuquerque is the perfect place to host a balloon fiesta. So why Albuquerque you many ask?
Well, turns out the wind currents and air temperature are key to the successful flying of hot air balloons, and Albuquerque has the perfect combination of these elements.
The “Albuquerque Box” is a set of predictable wind patterns that make navigating a balloon fairly simple in ideal conditions. At lower elevations in the Rio Grande Valley, where the city sits, the winds are southerly. At higher elevations, the winds are northerly. So balloon pilots can launch their craft from Balloon Fiesta Park, drift down the Valley, catch another wind current and drift back north and land near the place they started. That doesn’t happen everyday but it did today and we saw many of the balloons come back and land in the Fiesta Park…heck, some were right near our coaches.
The city’s cool morning temperatures also make it easier to fly a balloon; the balloons rise faster in cool air. According to the National Weather Service, Albuquerque’s wind pattern and temperatures are balloon-perfect in October. Yep, it was cool on Thursday morning but hats, gloves and a down coat did the trick.
My favorite event on Thursday morning was the Special Shape Rodeo…seriously, everyone around us was grinning like a kid as we were all surrounded by 92 huge balloons shaped like Yoda, Van Gogh, Darth Vader, Simba, The Lion King, pirates, dogs, cats zebras, a giant boot, penguins and so many more crazy looking creations.
After spending the morning on the field, I was ready for a cup of tea and a bite of something. We headed back to the coach where I was able to watch most of the Competition Balloon Flying right out our giant front window in the warm comfort of the coach. Somehow, we were lucky to be parked in the front row looking right over the fiesta balloon field.
Thursday was the first day that there were events going in both the morning and evening. We were excited about the evening Special Shapes Glowdeo but unfortunately, the wind kept that event from happening. Dang wind was just to gusty to make inflating the large, special shaped balloons doable. The major sponsor for this two week extravaganza is Canon and their team of ace balloon pilots tried their best to get the Canon Balloon inflated but in the end it was a no go.
The fireworks did however go off as planned and were right over the balloon field. All we had to do was step outside the coach to our outdoor seating area to watch the amazing 25 minute fireworks show right over head. All in all a great day with so many ways to be awed and amazed.
Frankly, this is why you want to come to the fiesta for 4-5 days…Mother nature works on her own schedule. We will get up early again on Friday to be on the field for another full day of balloon fiesta events and hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate.