The couple in the RV two down from us own the balloon Santa Fe Sunrise, and they invited us out to watch them launch.
First the balloon is laid out
It is attached to the basket
Then it is inflated with “cold” air
When it reaches 85% full, the burners are turned on
until there is enough heat to make the balloon “stand up”
Crew members hold the basket down while the balloon is fully inflated
There is a “Zebra” assigned to each balloon
She consults with the balloon pilot, whom has been previously issued a launch ticket (authorization to launch on this day from this spot). The launch field is laid out in a grid of A-Z and 1-9. The Santa Fe Sunrise was assigned spot Q-7.
The Zebra checks authorization to launch and all safety aspects of the balloon. She consults with other Zebra’s in the area, as balloons are launched by rows. She clears the area in front of the balloon (those rows had already been launched), and she gives the signal to launch.
The crew release the basket
and the balloon goes up
Considering that 550 balloons are going up today in the space of 2 hours, it is amazing there are no crashes.
Because the “Albuquerque Box” was working on this beautiful day, once all 550 balloons were launched, those that took off earlier returned to the field.
Here the “baby carriage” came in and landed.
It drooped as they began letting the hot air out
Until it collapsed,
and was put away for tomorrow’s flight.
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