Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

The Balloon Fiesta began Saturday, October 7th and was over on Sunday, October 15. I left Albuquerque a day or so later.

I took about 3,000 during the Balloon Fiesta. I had to create two photo albums in order to get all of the pictures online. In a few months, I will delete most of them and leave about 400 or so pictures in each album, just like I have done in previous years since attending my first Balloon Fiesta in 2011. I leave all of my pictures online for a few months so that any pilots that would like to use my pictures can have time to look through the pictures and take what they want. I have taken about 3,000 every year that I have attended Fiesta.  Every year there are numerous different regular and special shape balloons and it’s interesting to see the new designs and special shaped balloons.

Photo Album of Days 1-4 of Balloon Fiesta.

Photo Album of Days 5-9 of Balloon Fiesta.

If you want to see pictures I took at previous Balloon Fiesta’s, in the search block on this website type Balloon Fiesta and it will bring up the stories and links to the albums. Searching for hot air balloons will bring up additional hot air balloon events and pictures.

Like I wrote above, I took about 2,000 to 3,000 pictures each year, but after a few months I reduce the number to a few hundred photos. I also have stories and pictures from the balloon rally in Longview, Texas, and Shreveport, Louisiana.

I remember the “olden days” when we had to buy rolls of film with either 12, 24, or 36 pictures and also needed flash cubes or flash bulbs to take pictures. I know that is really showing my age, but it’s okay. I really like the digital pictures better. At the end of the day when I download the pictures to my computer I am amazed to see that in a single day at Fiesta I can take between 200 and 500 pictures and not even be aware of it. And it’s great to be able to see the pictures soon after being taken rather than having to wait a few days or week until they get developed. It’s also a lot less expensive using digital images than film.

During the past six weeks that I have been in Albuquerque there have been amazing sunrises, sunsets, rainbows,and stormy skies. Yes, the colors in the pictures below are real, I do not use colored filters. It was interesting to see clouds at the bottom of the mountain. I have included these pictures in the photo album for Days 5-9. It was extremely windy the last day of Fiesta and the balloons did not inflate nor fly. The flags were flying straight out which shows how windy it was. I know everyone was disappointed, but it was better to be safe.


As in previous years, I really enjoyed my time in Albuquerque. I volunteered at the Balloon Fiesta office again for the month before Fiesta doing various projects and tasks every day depending on who needed help. It really makes it interesting to volunteer and help different people. Plus, I get to meet new people working with others on these projects. I also get to see people that I know from previous years. And it’s nice to give back to an event that brings so much joy to so many people.

This year, I was able to watch the gas balloons fill and launch. The past few years they have launched at times I wasn’t able to watch. This year I was determined to see the gas balloons, it was really fascinating and very different than the hot air balloons. Hydrogen that the balloons are filled with is flammable so only those helping with the balloons are able to be close to them. The process takes hours and it looks very complicated. Sand bags are used for ballast and unlike hot air balloons which fly for an hour or two, gas balloons fly for about three days or so and they fly hundreds of miles. The balloon that flies the farthest distance wins the event.


One day after looking at my photos, I noticed that a few of them were pretty amazing like one of the Wells Fargo stagecoach that looks like it landed on the roof of the museum, or the alligator that looks like it’s balancing on the fin of Nitro Fish, or the Bee’s playing around the Wonder Bread balloon, and several others. Looking at the clown with the blue chicken that looks like it’s sitting on the clown’s head it is amazing to realize those balloons are almost the same size, it’s just the location of their placement on the field that makes one look so much smaller. The astronaut looks through the fence at the visitors and balloons on the field. There are many more interesting photos, all my pictures are in the two albums that have links above in this story. The Wonder Bread balloon brings back childhood memories.

I didn’t realize that some of the pictures, like the ones mentioned above, came out so interesting. At first, I didn’t plan on taking a picture of a balloon like the mariachi man waving to the baby. I noticed it after looking at my pictures the end of the day. After seeing those types of pictures for a few days, I realized if I waited a minute or so when a balloon was going up that I might be able to get pictures like the clown with the blue chicken looking like it was sitting on the clown’s head, or the alligator balancing on the fin of the red fish. As I saw the top of the blue chicken balloon behind the clown, I waited a few seconds until the chicken’s body rose enough to see the bottom of the balloon without the basket. As I saw the astronaut landing, I waited until the basket was below the hill behind the fence to take the picture so the basket would not show in the picture. It made picture taking and looking at the pictures more fun than just taking pictures of balloons.

One of the balloon pilots I have made friends with the past several years gave me an entire bag of pins of their balloon for me to give away. I had so much fun doing that. It gave me the opportunity to talk with more people and when I found out it was their first time at Fiesta I gave them a pin, or if I saw a family with children I would go over and give them pins, seeing the surprise and smiles on the people’s faces touched my heart and I am so grateful I was given the opportunity to hand out so many pins. I also took many of the pins I collected over the years and gave them to visitors too.

During the event, I crewed for the same pilot again, it’s my sixth year crewing for Scott on his balloon Big Blue. I didn’t get to go up this year, but it’s okay, I still liked helping and taking pictures. I also was assigned to the Pilot Registration team which I really like. I get to not only meet the pilots, but also see some that I have seen and/or crewed for at other balloon events, or even from previous years at this one. This year, I helped with giving the special shape pilots their pilot packs which was really interesting. I met pilots from lots of different countries. I appreciate the fact that there are numerous female pilots, several from other countries.

Meeting the pilots and seeing what design or shape their balloons are makes it more fun and interesting for me during the event. I find that I take extra pictures of the balloons of the pilots I know. I also still take lots of pictures of Scott’s balloon Big Blue and since I am at the balloon, I get to take pictures of all stages of the balloon from unpacking to it launching and flying. Since Scott had lots of chase crew the entire week, I didn’t even go on chase crew this year which was okay since I volunteered to help set up for the various parties that Fiesta held for the volunteers and pilots. And by staying on the field I was able to walk up close to the balloons and take a lot of pictures. It is not easy for me to decide which pictures to put in my story, so I just choose a few at random.

The motorcycle balloon was new this year and it was really interesting to watch it inflate and fly. I think it was the largest balloon at Fiesta. This was one of the special shape balloon pilots that I helped during pilot registration which made it more interesting when I saw the balloon inflate. Another few of my favorite balloons is the Scarecrow, Owlbert, Astronaut, and Nitro Fish, and the Bees. There are many more that I like but these always make me smile.

A few years ago while talking with Scott, the pilot I crew for, we were talking about various balloons and especially which special shaped ones we liked. Scott told me that the baby bee is piloted by the first paraplegic balloon pilot. I was fascinated. If my tumor continues pressing on the nerves in my leg it’s possible I may be in a wheelchair. So, when I see people in wheelchairs, or with artificial limbs, it touches my heart how they embrace life and continue to do what they love to do. In many instances I try to talk with them and let them know that they inspire me and it also puts my life in perspective. With their permission, I have written a few stories about people with challenges. Here are two of them: a story about David Nicholson, a story about another double amputee Eddie.

A few years ago, I briefly spoke with Michael Glen who is the hot air balloon pilot for Joelly, the baby bee. I told him and the other bee pilots that they could use the photos I took of their balloons. This year, while I was working at the special shape pilot registration table, I was the person working when Michael and the other two bee pilots came for their pilot packets. During Fiesta, I took pictures of the bees and was really happy when they were flying near my friends Wonder Bread balloon. I took several pictures where it looks like the bees were playing around that balloon, and also the Uncle Sam balloon.

One evening during the balloon glow I was near the bee balloons and I took numerous pictures of them inflating, including quite a few of Michael inflating his balloon and I was fascinated and impressed how agile and skilled he is maneuvering to get his balloon in position to inflate and stand up. I had heard that Michael has a special type of bench that allows him to fly his hot air balloon but I had not before tonight been able to see what it looks like or how he manages this task. From crewing many times, I know how much work it is for those of us without challenges to get a balloon from packed in its bag to inflated and standing upright. I couldn’t imagine what it would involve for someone in a wheelchair or without the use of his legs.

With Michael’s permission, I am posting some pictures of him positioning himself into his special bench seat to get his balloon upright. Here is a link to Michael’s website. I also found this story about Michael Glen telling a part of his story, here is another story.

Meeting Michael and seeing his smile and experiencing his wonderful, friendly personality, and knowing that he lives his life in a wheelchair, inspires me and gives me hope. Many times over the years when I have had operations and faced life changing health situations I wondered if it was more serious would I have the courage and whatever else it would take to have a good attitude and overcome my challenges. Seeing Michael and others with physical challenges gives me so much hope that I would be able to adjust to whatever happens. One day I was at my doctor’s office and I met a young man that has no arms, not even stubs of arms. He wrote by putting a pen in his mouth, and he used his phone by moving the screen with his nose. Once again, I am inspired and in awe.

If you want to read my posts on inspirational poems and stories, you can do a search for that phrase as well. A few years ago I wrote a story called Seriously, Really, you would rather be an ostrich. It’s a post about the importance of having legal documents prepared. I also have stories about my mentor Lois who died in 1989, her influence on my life has helped me on a daily basis.

Balloon Fiesta purchased 19 acres of land on the northwest side of the field and they made it into parking for the volunteers and also they created RV spaces with full hookups, and it’s pretty level which was great. The past several years I liked being on the hill overlooking the field even though there was only electric, but I didn’t like that I had to be on several boards to get level. I feel that this new area is an improvement and is close enough to walk to the places on the field I needed to get to. In addition, there were golf carts and trolleys to get the volunteers from place to place.

Several times during my time in Albuquerque I went to the Balloon Museum and I posted stories and pictures of my visits. You can use the search feature on my website to locate these stories and also other places I visited in Albuquerque and New Mexico. Search for museum or Albuquerque.

I am hoping to attend Balloon Fiesta again in 2018. Feel free to explore my website, I retired in June 2011 and I have traveled around the country and visited numerous National Parks and other places of interest. I have a travel map button for every year of my travels.

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1 Response to Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

  1. Luiz Fonseca says:

    Thanks for publishing the photo ! What about those inspired photos like the crocodile stepping into the Nitrofish’s head ??? We’re always so short of time, in a rush to do everything… Thank you for the attention, for your time ! Hope I can come again next year to see all my friends, including you !

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