Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Balloon Fiesta, October 2, 2015

The weather in Albuquerque has been  unusually hot with temperatures in the 90s and night time temperatures in the 60's.  The routine has been to stay in the Beaver in the morning while it is still cool and run errands or whatever in the afternoon to shop in the air conditioned stores.

 The Fiesta officially kicks off tomorrow (Saturday), however yesterday our pilot Will LaPoint contacted us and want to meet up with his crew (Joel and I and two other couples)in the afternoon.

We scurried over to the Pilots Pavilion and met Will and his Crew Chief Kevin and helped moved several balloons and baskets into a tent and Will's trailer.  More on that in a later post.

Friday before the opening of the Fiesta the pilots take their balloons to the schools for educational purposes.  The event is  called Balloons Aloft.  School children are given an opportunity to touch the balloons and some even get in the basked.  Will was anticipating participating in the event and we met him this morning with the expectation we would be going to one of the schools to help.

As it turned out Will wanted to fly today.  His Tiger balloon had recently been through the annual inspection and he had not had a chance to fly it and wanted to check it out before competition begins.

 As we drove on to the launching field many of the balloons were getting ready to launch.

We helped unload the balloon and laid it out on the grass, attached the balloon to the basket, opened the throat to let the cold air in, held the throat open  to let the hot air in until the balloon was totally inflated and ready to take off.

 Once the balloon is out of the case we have to spread it out so the fan can blow cold air into it.
(I didn't get a picture of the fan blowing the air into the balloon because I was holding the throat (opening) open. Below the balloon is almost fully inflated with cold air.

 Once it is fully inflated Will shot hot air into and then the balloon is ready to launch.

 That's when Will told Joel and I to jump in the basket and prepare for flight.  This was totally unexpected! What a thrill! Obviously neither one of us objected and off we flew for almost an hour. I was so mesmerized I didn't take all that many pictures while up in the air.
 That's our shadow as we go up.
 The balloon below us was almost ready to launch as we flew over it.
 If you look closely the basket are tip on their side while the balloon is filling up.  Once the hot air is injected they become upright and lift the baskets into upright  launching position.  This is when everyone has to hang on or the balloon can become air born prematurely.
 I'm told the launching field will be wall to wall balloons and spectators tomorrow.  The Balloon Fiesta in ABQ is unique in that spectators are allowed on the field during the launch process. In most shows spectators are not allowed to mingle with the balloons.

Up we went over the field. There are several layers of wind in Albuquerque which create a box like scenario. The wind at the lower level goes one direction and the wind at the upper level goes the opposite. Because of this, the Pilots can fly in a box type flight plan.  They fly one direction at the lower level then inflate the balloon up to the upper level and change direction and then repeat the process. In this way they can often get back to the launching point.

A partial overview of Balloon Fiesta Park.  The Escapee Boomer are parked in the middle left of the picture near the canal.
 More of the launching field. Note the golf course in the lower left side of the photo.
 The Boomers are located along the canal. We are parked about the 4th one in.  The building in the background with the blue stripe is a large company that make some kind of baked goods...cookies I think.  You can smell them several times a day and night.

Today the winds were not at two levels but at three levels which sort of blew us off course and we got an extra long ride and landed opposite where Will wanted to the street.  Will has been ballooning for over 30 years, so I wasn't too worried.

Kevin and Joel pulled the balloon out of the street on to the sand. Fortunately it wasn't a busy street and those cars that were traveling through stopped to take pictures.  Will had to keep  the Tiger inflated until it was positioned it the right spot for packing up.
 He opened the crown and the the balloon collapsed and then the "burping" began to get all of the air out so the balloon could be put back in the sack.  Putting it in the big sack was much like stuffing a giant sleeping back in a stuff sack.

 It took a while for the chase vehicle to catch up with us because we were flying over fields with no real truck access and many of the small roads around the park are barricaded during the festival.

All in all a very exciting day.  Will has several balloons, one of which is a special shape balloon named Keystone Willy which he will be flying in competition next week.  But in the meantime, he is flying some of his other balloons and we will be crewing for permitting.

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