Balloon Aloft

Balloon Aloft

Rainbow Ryders took us for a ride in the sky over Albuquerque Tuesday morning.  We arrived at the launching site at 5:45 a.m., early enough to watch the sunrise.  It took about an hour to lay out the balloon, inflate it with air using fans, attach the basket, and heat the air.  We rode in one of three balloons with nine other passengers.  After we climbed into the basket, our captain, Mike, made a smooth lift off.  We floated toward the Rio Grande River which has large trees on both banks.  At one point I was sure we were going to hit a tree, but Mike authoritatively hit the heat a couple of times and we easily rose above the tree.  Once we were over the river, he brought us down so that the basket kissed the water.  Then it was time to rise.  We ascended 2,000 feet above the launch site with views first of mansions near the river and then the city skyline with its mountain backdrop.  Our hour long flight came to an end in an open field in the middle of a neighborhood not far from a middle school and high school.  Neighbors seemed to be used to balloons in the air; several people waved at us.  The landing was smooth and we waited while the chase team got permission from the owner for us to use his field.  The chase team then spread out a tarp so the $110,000 balloon would not get muddy.  We helped stuff it in its container.  The crew loaded the balloon and basket on the trailer following the chase van.  We got in and traveled to a nearby park where we shared a celebratory champagne toast and received pins recognizing our flight.  Our first hot air balloon ride was a memorable one;  great weather for viewing the world and celebrating my wife’s upcoming birthday.

Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum

Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum

Later in the morning we visited the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, named for two Albuquerque businessmen who had a passion for ballooning.  We learned about the history of ballooning and other forms of flight.  On September 19, 1783 King Louis XVI of France witnessed the ascent of the Martial, carrying a duck, a sheep, and a rooster.  The flight proved that a balloon could carry a load and that mammals could breathe above the earth.  Historical displays with important balloons and cabins gave us a better understanding of our own flight experience.  It would be very interesting to observe the Albuquerque balloon fiesta held in October when some 500 balloons take flight.

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