Friday, October 7, 2016

First Time at Balloon Fiesta

After some false starts, Wednesday, I had my first shift at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  As I expected, I could not sleep
Tuesday night.  Think it was the anticipation and worrying about over-sleeping. Read and tried to sleep/nap.  Got up, dressed, grabbed my cameras and headed to IHOP for breakfast.

Glad I donned a medium weight jacket.  Was a little chilly (mid-40s) when I headed out.  Stopped to gas up the car and arrived at the Balloon Fiesta Park about 4am.  One of the fiesta officials came by and plugged in our tent.

The Wednesday crew started showing up.  Grabbed the electronics out of the trailer and set up the Special Events Station W5B.  One on our club members told me what to look for.  Soon, it was about the time for balloons of the "Dawn Patrol" to take to the skies.  Their function was to check the winds before the mass ascension for the rest of the balloons.

As the sun started rising over the Sandia Mountains, balloons were lifting off.  There was a constant flow of balloons rising into the sky and heading to the north,  As I watched the ascension, the first balloons to lift off seemed to the those of traditional shape.

Later in the ascension came the larger and special balloons.  I captured photos of some of these unusual balloons.  Here is a cow, just for my friends in Wisconsin.

It was a good thing we had a full compliment of volunteers to man the High Desert ARC tent.  Like a kid in a candy store, I was excited watching all of the balloons.  Most of my time was closer to the launch field to take photos.

Band conditions were the pits like they have been all year.  There also were some problems with tent power - kept tripping the breaker.  Don't think we made any contact in HF.  Two nets were conducted during the morning.  I think they were both on 2M.

It was a perfect morning for flying.  One of the things I learned about the Albuquerque air currents often create a "box".  Winds aloft were to the North.  After flying North, they dropped altitude and the surface winds often brought the balloons back to the Balloon Fiesta Park for landing.

Once the mass ascension had been running for over an hour, people started leaving the park. The club shut down the HF station and one of the nets concluded. Two of us members stayed until the second net was over.  By about 11 am, most of the balloons had landed and it was our time to close up for the day.

While I was tired, I also was hungry.  Stopped by a couple stores near Cottonwood Mall killing time until the clubs Wednesday lunch.

Exhausted, I got home and crashed onto my bed.  Slept for a couple hours. got up and transferred photos from the camera to the hard drive.  Processed some of the better photos and posted some on

Photos:  Dawn Patrol,  Specialty Balloon,  Special Events Station W5B and High Desert ARC tent

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