ABQ Balloon Fiesta: Dawn Patrol

October 9th, 2010 by Jeff Leave a reply »

The city of Albuquerque hosts a hot air balloon festival every year in October. Balloonists from all over the world bring their equipment and set off from a field every morning for a full week. The best part: you can walk around among them right on the field as they prepare and lift off.

There’s something both ridiculous and amazing about watching six hundred pilots simultaneously fill up their contraptions and take to the sky in droves.

Most of the pilots launch right at dawn, but there is a small set that go up earlier to test the winds and make sure it’s safe enough for everyone else. I woke up at 4am to get to the field on time to photograph them as they set up and launched. I even bought a new lens specifically for the occasion, a Canon 10-22mm ultrawide, and used the tripod Annie gave me before I left. Be sure to click on each of the crops to view the full images. I’ll post the daylight images later, but for now enjoy the early bird set.

A row of hot air balloons still on the ground, with the night sky in the background.

Pilot and assistants aim a propane burst into a horizontal balloon's opening.

A row of balloons are lit up by burners before liftoff.

The first few dawn patrol balloons lift off in the background

Dawn patrol fires a salvo of flares to give a good show for the spectators.

1 comment

  1. Mom says:

    That second picture of the men holding the flame is really a good one. I don’t know all the technical info, but it really captures the action.

This work by Jeff Hiner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.