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Oct 25, 2019
The Dawn Patrol
This is the 5th year that one of my oldest and best friends and I went to the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. It is one of my most favorite things to photograph and attend. It totally brings out the child in me. Add in that I get to spend time with a friend closer than a brother that I might only see several times a year and I look forward to this time more than a kid looking at Christmas.
Early morning the balloons start setting up and when I say early morning I mean before the sun even begins to lighten the sky warning it is coming. They will launch several balloons in the dark as a dawn patrol. Here the balloons are checking the weather conditions and flight conditions. There is few things as spectacular as watching the glow of the burners in the colorful balloons lighting up the dark.
With the winds tested and if the all-clear is given, the pilots begin the process of inflating their balloons. I think this year there were more than 500 balloons. It is a sight to behold, a field with that many balloons. One of the coolest things about the festival is you can get right down on the field with the balloons and talk to the crews and pilots up close and personal and watch the whole process. When the balloons are ready and the wind is right, they launch in a mass ascension. Seeing 500 some odd hot air balloons in flight at once is amazing.
Damon (my friend who I travel with) and I have learned a great trick to deal with the 100,000 or so crowd. It is easy to get lost. In 2014 I went to the bathroom. It took several hours to find Damon in the crowd. So we wear the tallest hat we can find. Both of us are 6'2" so add another foot and you we can easily spot each other from across the field.
If there is ever a time to be a clown, the Fiesta is the time!
It is hard not to come away from the fiesta without a good photo, even cell phone photos can be amazing if framed right. It is not just the balloons, the people are amazing too. Hopefully next year I will be back!
BTW if you like Hot Air Balloons, I have an Instagram account dedicated to my photograph of them HERE.
Also, check out my YouTube Channel, there are a few videos of the Balloon Fiesta including one in flight. MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL
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