After the 2020 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta was cancelled -- well, for legal liability purposes they're claiming it was "rescheduled" -- due to the Covid pandemic, there was a lot of anticipation around this year's Fiesta, which was held in early October.
Balloons were able to fly on seven out of the nine scheduled days of the Fiesta, and on four of those seven mornings the winds brought the balloons up to our neighborhood. So for me it was a balloon bonanza, where all I had to do was walk over to a huge open area near my house to photograph dozens of balloons as they flew over and/or landed.
Each morning's launches begin with Dawn Patrol, a handful of balloonists selected to fly in the dark to confirm the weather conditions, wind direction at different altitudes, etc.
Then, if all conditions are good, the 400-500 balloons at the field begin to take off.
Eventually, when the wind is right, they make their way 6-7 miles north-northwest across the Rio Grande to the village of Corrales, where we live, and the sky is filled with balloons!
When the winds are right at different altitudes -- as they were for most of the days this year -- the balloons overfly our neighborhood going north, then drop down to catch the wind at the surface to fly south, which brings them back to land in the big open space near my house.
The overflights are dramatic and beautiful:
As they descend on their return, the balloons swoop down over the tops of the houses:
Gliding to a landing, they provide more dramatic views:
And if you're in the right place, you can say "Good morning!" to the passengers in the basket as they float right over you:
With a lot of skill and a little luck, some balloons manage to land in a large arroyo where there is reasonably good access for chase crews and plenty of room to lay down the envelope safely and pack it up.
Others, however, land in the scrub and have to wait for their chase crew to arrive:
Frequently that means keeping the envelope inflated enough for the basket to float just above the ground so it can be walked . . . or pushed . . . to a driveway, a road, a cul-de-sac, or any area where there's room to lay down the envelope safely for folding, rolling, and packing:
Eventually, the last balloon comes in for a landing:
If you would like to see these images (and more) in a larger format, please visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.