I was first introduced to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in 1986 while in living in Florida as a church missionary. A youngish couple we were teaching had recently published a coffee table book of their photos from Fiesta.
We enjoyed our time together talking, learning and sharing. At the end of the evening, they gave me an autographed copy of their book.
I’m not sure where that book is today, though I’m guessing it’s in one of the many boxes of books that haven’t yet found room onto the many packed shelves of my library of bookcases and cabinets.
Though the book has been out of sight for quite some time, the memory of that evening together has softly lingered. When we started looking for a time to visit our son Brenin, who is stationed in New Mexico with the Air Force, we naturally considered connecting at the Fiesta.
We had only one day to enjoy the event so we made the most of it.
We were up at 4am and headed to the shuttle bus parking lot, joining thousands more also excited to witness the early morning “Dawn Patrol” and “Mass Ascension.”
I expected to be watching the event perched on the grass a safe distance from the balloons. But to my surprise, we were “on the ground” with the balloonists and their magnificent balloons.
And I mean right in the middle!
We were on the ground as a father and son team prepped and launched two balloons side by side. Being so close to the action I witnessed as spectators jumped in to help flight crews unpack and spread out the balloons. I also discovered hot air balloons are initially inflated with cold air generated by large fans such as the one pictured above. Once the balloon has substantial shape, while still lying on the ground, the propane is then turned on and the burners finish filling.
Equipment is checked and doubled-checked then the pilot and crew wait for one of the many launch directors, codenamed “Zebras” (you can see how they get their names in the picture above) to give them clearance to launch.
Then they’re off, soaring into the wild blue yonder!
We returned to the Fiesta later on Saturday for the twilight events for the “Night Magic Glow,” skydivers, and fireworks. During the night glow, the balloons light up and flicker simultaneously creating a beautiful glow against the night sky.
I leave you with this poem I wrote last year for my friend Drew Merritt as he graduated from Utah State University. It seems fitting to share again today.
SOAR YOU SHALL
By Les Patterson
Soar you shall
Into the outer reaches
Of the Wild Blue Yonder.
Perhaps navigated by others
But now yours to claim.
Practically applying knowledge
Discovering capabilities unknown.
As you rise on created lift
Others too you shall help soar.
Who envisions the golden sky
In the nest his feathers remain.
Have a great Monday! Thanks for letting me share.
p.s. Take 13 minutes today to focus on your way of soaring into the Wild Blue Yonder.
The story you most consistently tell yourself will be the story to most consistently come true in your life.
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