Monday, October 4 - We started slowly this morning. We both decided to stay home and watch the balloons fly over the RV park rather than going to the launch field. It sure was a balloon filled sky all over Albuquerque. The balloons were divided up.....half taking off from the launch field and half flying in and landing at the launch field. The result was a sky full of balloons! It was an awesome morning for balloon flying!
Again, they flew right over our parking spot.
The sky couldn’t get much bluer.
This is called American Dream…one of our favorites.
Another favorite…Silver Star
After the morning ballooning, we attended the Volunteer's Luncheon at the big tent on the launch field.
The lunch was delicious! After the typical introductions and speeches the time came for door prizes. Guess who won a prize at the Volunteer's Luncheon.......Paul Weaver come on down!
I won a Croton Limited Edition Stainless Steel Pilot's watch valued at $190.00.
It's engraved....2010 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.......AWESOME!!! It was one of the gifts everyone wanted. What a surprise!
We visited the Texas tourist station. WOW, what a great job they do. We saw a short movie on Texas, got two pictures taken…one for a screen saver and another cute one…and two Texas flags.
Marsha and I then spent the remainder of the day relaxing and running some errands. We did go to Border's Bookstore to upload all the balloon pictures for the blog. Aren't they beautiful? Marsha did a great job! Thanks hon!
Tuesday, October 5 – We left for the balloon launch field a little after 5:00 a.m. this morning. We were crewing for the “Little Bees”. They are a tandem flying team that sometimes includes a baby bee making a total of three. This morning only two bees were flying. The third pilot was participating in the Fly-in” contest later this morning.
The first job was to unload the equipment out of the truck, unwrap the balloon, and prepare for inflation.
Marsha and I worked the throat of the balloon. That meant we held the balloon open during cold air inflation using two giant fans. Once filled with cold air, the pilot began heating the air with the two propane burners. You could feel the balloon getting airborne once more heat was supplied.
After a few minutes of heating it was time to set the balloon upright.
The intriguing thing with the bees is that they want to inflate and launch simultaneously. Once both bees were inflated and heated, the lead pilot gave the word and the burners were held open to super heat the air. The flight director gave the work and the balloon slowly rose TOGETHER into the air.
Once launched, we watched other balloon ascend for a while then it was time to begin the chase. The Bees use a local driver to chase the balloons. He knows his way around Albuquerque and can find good places to land that make recovery easier. He did a great job, as did the pilots, bring both Bees down within 100 feet of each other in an elementary school playground area.
We held on to the basket as the pilot let the air slowly cool and then began opening up the top of the balloon to allow the air to escape and the balloon gently deflate and lay down on the ground.
Paul squeezing the air out of the balloon.
It then looks like this.
Once down, we began the routine of forcing the remaining air out of the envelope and wrapping the balloon up and jamming it into the bag.
The balloon weights about 350 pounds after stuffing it into the storage bag.
We then loaded everything into the chase truck and returned to the launch field to watch the competition balloons coming in for landings. The crew gave us each a “Bees” pin and quite a few trader cards. They invited us to hang-out with them for the morning and welcomed us to return tomorrow to “crew” with them.
Paul asked about the cost of this type of balloon. It's referred to as a “special shape” balloon. It is made in Brazil at a cost of approximately $60,000. The basket adds an addition $20,000 to the total. After propane tanks, and other extra equipment is added, the total cost is approximately $100,000. You then add the chase truck and.....this is definitely an expensive hobby!
This pilot and crew were a pleasure to work with. They were very professional and safety conscientious. We would definitely recommend working with them in the future.
The pilot is the one on the right. Bob Romaneschi is the owner of all three bees. His wife is the second from the left.
Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you back real soon. Have a great day!