Balloons!

I’m back in New Mexico for a second attempt to film a documentary on the America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race. We came out for the event last year but after the balloons were inflated, the winds picked up and after several hours of inclement weather, the race was canceled. Super disappointing. We ended up staying in Albuquerque for the entire Balloon Fiesta and hanging with some hot-air balloonists, which was totally fun but not what we set out to do.

So we’re back this year to get this project done. The plan is for Katie, Chris and I to be a second chase car for one of the gas teams (Team Calvin) and Adam is going to stay at the command center to get footage from that side. They are predicting the balloons will travel north (Canada is a likely possibility) so we could be in for a long drive.

I got in to Albuquerque yesterday afternoon after a very early morning (3:30am wake up for a 7:30 flight out of Boston). When Katie and Chris picked me up from the airport, she filled me in on some bad news. The wife of Team Calvin co-pilot was injured and the pair had to leave immediately to take her back home for surgery. So… our team was without a co-pilot. Fortunately, another balloonist stepped in and the change was approved by the committee and other pilots. One problem was solved.

But then the weather predictions were not looking so great. New Mexico has been experiencing lightning storms every evening. And the winds are relatively slow so they fear that the balloons wouldn’t be able safely clear the area during the storm breaks in the morning/afternoon. Given that an American gas balloon team went missing after a lightning storm over the Adriatic Sea just last week (and neither the pilots or any equipment has been found) everyone is, understandably so, uneasy about the risk. So the race that was supposed to launch this afternoon is postponed until tomorrow at least. If the weather is still not looking good, it could be pushed back to Thursday or called off all together. The storms are supposed to clear up, so we’re hoping that this race launches and Katie can get the footage she needs to finish the documentary and graduate.

With no pre-race activities to shoot today, we headed to the field to film/enjoy the hot air balloon festivities.


A ballooning day starts at 6ish in the morning, so we’re planning on nap-time and then pool-time before dinner. We’ll try to get to bed early so we can be ready for tomorrow. If there’s good weather, the gas balloons will fill around 8pm and launch sometime around 11pm. Which means we could be driving through the night and the next few days chasing it. Keep your fingers crossed that it will work out for us this year.

Hoping for adventure!

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One response to “Balloons!

  1. arikkahall

    Update: The race is definitely not going to launch tomorrow (not sure about the details, but it’s probably weather related). We’ll attend the pilot meeting tomorrow evening to see how likely a Thursday or Friday launch might be. But it’s not looking so good. Our 2nd attempt could be a bust. 😦

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