Monday, October 3, 2011

Balloon Fiesta Sets World Record

Little did I realize when I was marveling about being in a hot air balloon on Saturday, rising so quickly and quietly above the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta launch field, that I was taking part in setting a new Guinness World Record! As announced several places, including the Sacramento Bee, 345 hot air balloons were launched in one hour, breaking the previous record of 329 set in France earlier in 2011.

I must apologize for publishing a picture of the wrong balloon in my previous blog post. The Zipper, in which I was a passenger, is below in a picture provided by the pilot.

I thought I spotted it in the sky the day after my balloon ride, but I picked the wrong one. The one below is similar, but definitely not right!


Anyway, thanks to Pilot Luc Goethals who set me right, with apologies for my mistake! (He’s already forgiven me.)

Today began with commercial balloons lining up to inflate and ascend with paying passengers.



The American Flag was flown by the Folgers balloon while the Star Spangled Banner was sung. What a moving way to inspire participants!


We didn’t get to fly the Zipper today because we were missing some members of our team. So we watched a flying competition where balloonists tried to toss rings over very tall poles (for a $4,000 cash prize and a chance to win $100,000 if they repeat it for 4 days) and throw flags to land in a boat (thus winning the boat). The boat was won, and one balloonist won the $4,000.

Here’s an attempt to get a ring tossed on a pole.


This picture shows an attempt to land a flag in the boat.


After watching so many balloonists trying to hit the targets, I really appreciated how difficult the competition was!

We met several “Zebras” (Launch Directors) today. If you’re interested in learning more about these dedicated volunteers, check out the Zebra Zone on the Balloon Fiesta website.


Mike, one of the Zebras, came to talk with Luc about whether he was going to launch today. I noticed he wore a Breast Cancer Awareness cap and several buttons and ribbons. When I told him I was a survivor, he gave me a “Save the Ta-Tas” button and a big hug!


Later, I met Debbie who discussed health and cancer survival, and she also hugged me and showed off all her Zebra attire, including a special manicure!


Here are some more balloon sights for your enjoyment.



The bee family flew together today!






Lookout! Here I come! (The landing missed all the people, amazingly.)



During happy hour this evening, a member of our Escapees Boomers group, Linda Wheeler, entertained us by singing several songs.


We called it an early evening with a light supper at home so we can get up early in the morning to get to the launch field by 6:15 am.


  1. What gorgeous balloons! I see you're off on more adventures. We're home in Regina now, catching up with family and yardwork, etc. We did sneak off to the Hostfest in Minot, ND last week for some excellent entertainment and food and fun with friends but will be home until January now (when we head to Casa Grande). Take care and we hope to see you this winter in Arizona.

  2. Those balloons are just unbelievable. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful photos.

  3. We volunteered at the Fiesta for 12 days last year. It was wonderful. We recruited people to help launch the balloons. What fun!

  4. Wow! How fabulous. We've not been to the Albuquerque Fiesta, but in the mid 20th century we did go to the Thunderbird Balloon Festival in Phoenix a couple of times. It's a smaller show for sure, but it was exciting for us and our two youngsters. Thanks for sharing this one with us.

  5. Thanks for those pics. I loved seeing those baloons when we were in the southwest.


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