Yes, here we go again, but this time we will focus on the process of getting ready to lift off and looking for a landing area. Simple you think, but think again!
To get a balloon in the air is not as simple as it seems, especially when there are hundreds all around, including the sky. Each pilot has a different way of getting the cold inflate process completed, but everyone using a big fan to fill the envelope with enough air to allow the fire of the propane burner to continue the process with the hot inflate. Once the basket is upright with the balloon envelope bellowing overhead one waits for a zebra. A zebra is a trained volunteer that is absolutely necessary to get balloons into the air safely! The zebra talks with the Andre Boucher, our pilot. We needed to move off to the left instead of straight ahead because of the nearness of other balloons. The zebra blows his/her whistle to clear the onlookers so no one is hit by the balloon during liftoff. Then the pilot is given the go ahead. The pilot guides his crew in the liftoff and away we go!
The Albuquerque box was not working on this day and the wind close to the ground was moving pretty fast. Every balloon pilot that was landing around the McKinley Middle School area was having the same difficulty. They were coming in fast, hitting hard, bouncing back up into the air. Some moved on and others made it because of the balloon crews that were on the ground. Those images will be in a future article. See the slide show to better understand this total process.
Enjoy the story in pictures!