October 8, 2009

New Mexico Sketch Tour 09

Balloon Fiesta | RainbowRyders Epic Flight | Epic Day of Adventure

Note: so much adventure, so little time....changing from a day to day format to reflection format...

Surprised that I could sleep at all, up at 3:30am and on the road by 5am for the grand adventure of the trip. Today we're flying in a RainbowRyders Fiesta balloon that will launch with hundreds of others at dawn. We're in high gear and make it to the Fiesta grounds in record time. We sign in, get our flight briefing, and wait briefly to go out to the field where our balloon and crew await.

While standing with new friends who will be flying with us the Dawn Patrol balloon ascends to scout out the wind and flying conditions to give the "go or no" green light to the crews below. Against the pre-dawn moon the twinkling lights trailing from the balloon are joined by the glow of the hot air fire jets as the patrol balloon lights up like a graceful night lite.

Dawn Patrol

Conditions are favorable (!) and we head out to the launch site.... We follow the crew holding a sign with the number of our balloon down the main avenue and all around us crews are readying their rigs, laying out the balloons flat, gondola's laying on their sides, fans sending cold air into the balloons to begin inflating them, opening the envelopes to the bursts of superheated air from the jets....all of this activity sending thrills of anticipation through us, the roar and flare of the jets illuminating the pre-dawn air as first light begins to dawn over the Sandia Mountains.

strolling to the launch site

Flares from neighboring balloon jets illuminate our ride
as it stretches out on the launch site grass.

The high power fans' and hot air engines' roar and flares, the pink grey dawn light, and the excited conversations of hundreds of aeronaut wannabees fills the air sent streaming into the emerging balloons. As the rainbowRyder crew ready's the balloon for inflation, we receive our pre-flight briefing from world-class pilot, Tommy Brown.

pre-flight briefing

As sunrise kicks into gear, so do the crews and the pageantry of the mass ascension blooms. Hundreds of balloons begin to inflate and the roar and light of the hot air jets illuminate and punctuate the action in staccato roars and billowing colors.

Sunrise over the Sandias

oooohhh shiney! Can I fly it?!

The balloon we'll be riding in is 7 stories tall

Pilot Tommy Brown cranks up the heat

Neighbors take off left and right

Ready for launch

pure excitement as we lift off with a roar...

mass ascension from the air....

The balloon ascends...Bear, Barb, and Brad.....rainbow riders all....
with Pops headin' the charge

soaring and floating to the horizon and beyond
with the lighthearted herd of dreams

Balloons to the left of me, balloons to the right,
I am floatin' in the middle with you....!

higher and higher.....

"rush hour" over downtown Albuquerque


The hour-long ride was indescribable and left a lasting full body natural high that emanated from my feet swirled through my belly and left my head floating high above the ground for many hours after we touched ground. The pilot punctuated the epic ride by descending over a 100ft stand of trees, brushing the gondola over the last 3 ft of treetop. The maneuver happened to touch the gondola, inches from my fingertips, next to and under me with a jazz drum brush stroke.....tickling under my feet, and slowing the balloon down as the pilot had intended. This added thrill gilded the buzz as we touched down with a gentle bump, slide, hop, and settle. Rainbow Riders Rule!

rainbow riding aeronauts' epic adventure ride!

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