Friday, October 14, 2011

UP, UP AND AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After working with Daniel for four days we Boomers on the crew, Marcia, Terry, Nanc & I were pretty confident that we would get in the air. But then, starting on Wednesday, all events were canceled for three days because of the wind and rain and our chances were not looking very good. We still had to get up at 5:15 AM each morning to check on conditions with Daniel to see if it was a go. We awoke Saturday to cold temps (39) and s**w down to about 6500 feet on Sandia Mountain. We layered up with just about all our cold weather gear (we do not normally do cold) and went to the launch field. After the balloon was spread out and waiting for the zebras to tell Daniel to start the fan, T, Daniel's mom, told Marcia and I that we needed to sign the release because we were flying that morning. Wow, were we happy. When I told Nanc she smiled and gave me a hug but I could tell she was sad that she was not going to be going up. Marcia and I had a GREAT flight and when we landed Daniel told us to call Terry in the chase truck and tell him to get to the balloon because conditions were still fine and he was going to take him and Nanc up. WOW, what a day.

Jim and Marcia in the air and Nanc and Terry in the balloon waiting to lift off. Do you think she was happy? They got off the ground and the wind quickly changed so there flight was very short and we on the chase crew had a hard time getting to them where they landed. They did get down really close to the canal and loved the ride even if it was a bit short.
Looking at the launch field as Marcia and I slowly rise above the crowd. What an unbelievable sight of colors and people.

It really is like you are floating. The only noise was the occasional burst of gas when Daniel hit the burner. You can see balloons in every step of the process from envelopes on the ground, to being aired up with the fan, to standing upright after going hot, to flying.

As we floated away from the field we were surrounded by balloons. They coordinate the launch in waves with different rows going together.

Looking down on our rig (middle) and a few Boomers watching. Many of the balloons that had launched earlier were landing by the RVs.

It was amazing with balloons above, below and all around us. It was without a doubt one of life's great experiences to get a ride. The basket on Daniel's balloon, Morning Wood, only holds three or four people so it was much neater than being in one of those big commercial balloons.

This is our first flight initiation. Terry had been up before so he was exempt. Top left, we kneel before our glasses of champagne. Top right, Chris, Daniel's brother, tells the tale of how champagne became an important part of ballooning going back to the first flight in France. Bottom left, as we all drink without using our hands the whole crew drenches us with whatever liquid (water, beer, champagne) they had in hand. Bottom right, for those who know Nanc and how much she HATES the cold (remember it was 39 that morning) I think her smile says it all about what a great experience this was.

As we got the balloon ready for the last mass ascension on Sunday Nanc learned that since her flight on Saturday had been cut short she would be going up again with Michael and Courtney. I thinks she loves this ballooning thing.

There they are soaring above the crowd.

Looking down as they float above the launch field.

You can see the bees spread out on the field before they begin to inflate them as other balloons take off.

Looking down on balloons, Albuquerque and the Rio Grande where Daniel was taking them for a quick dip, another ballooning tradition. They got up to about 2000 feet above the ground, an altitude of 7000 feet.

With Sandia Mountain in the background the balloons line up to take their shot at getting in the water.

We were chasing them, but did not get there in time to see them in the water. Morning Wood is the highest balloon on the left.

Nanc's look at the river as she was about to get her feet wet. Wow what a ride.

One thing about ballooning, you never know for sure where the wind is going to carry you and where you are going to land. It was rather calm so they were drifting real slow as Daniel looked for a spot to land while we followed through the streets below. It was so calm that he threw a rope down so we could pull the balloon to a good landing spot. After it was on the ground the whole crew walked it to a spot were there was room to deflate the envelope. Really a rather strange sight seeing a bunch of people out walking a balloon down the street. The people in the neighborhood even lent a hand.The crew of the Morning Wood (Marcia and Nanc were taking pics) celebrating a great flight and a great week. TRULY AWESOME!!!

Going to the Balloon Fiesta was a bucket list item and when you think that thousands of people attend each year just to watch and that we got to be part of the event as crew members, including some great tailgating and partying with the pilots, it was really special. Then, when you throw in the fact that WE GOT TO FLY that really made for a super fantastic week . For any SKP going with the Boomers it is also a great deal as we only paid for camping and the crew pass got us into all events whether we were working or not. There was just too much going on the whole week to cover in two blog entries so here is a web album of a few more of the over 1100 pictures we took. We had a great week and plan to return for a future fiesta. A special thanks to all the Liberti family who let us be part of the action of their exciting family hobby. YOU GUYS ROCK!!


Jim and Bobbie said...

Great blog post!!! So glad you got to enjoy it all.

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Mad sweet!