Back in October I had the amazing opportunity to attend the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M. Making it an even more memorable trip was my first experience in a hot air balloon. Pilot Lucien Desbiens and his team from Montgolfieres from Quebec, Canada were wonderful hosts.
From my experience, I have three recommendations for you:
1: If you ever have a chance to attend the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque you really should. It is a weeklong festival centered on the sport of hot air ballooning and it provides you with some amazing opportunities. In recent years, there have been three-quarters of a million visitors and more than 600 pilots and balloons on a fairgrounds dedicated primarily to this annual celebration. You can find out more about the annual event here and you if you’re on Facebook you can tap in to photos and experiences from other visitors on the festival’s page.
2: You don’t have to travel all the way to New Mexico to enjoy a hot air balloon ride, so check in your area to find companies who are offering trips. The experience is hard to describe. You are floating in ways I’ve never experienced and, other than the noise of the burners firing occasionally, it really is quiet and peaceful. For those of afraid of heights, don’t worry. You can see some amazing views from hundreds of feet in the air and yet you are in a very stable platform that doesn’t bounce around or spin and shouldn’t be unsettling in any way.
3. If you are in Quebec or anywhere the Montgolfieres team is flying, try to connect with them for a ride. Desbiens and his team were friendly, helpful and patient, plus their skill at providing a top-notch, safe and enjoyable trip were obvious from start to finish. You can find out all about the team and what they’re up to at their website.
I took advantage of my trip to shoot some video of the fairgrounds and to interview Desbiens about why he flies. You can check out a five-minute movie I produced here:
(Night Glow photo courtesy of Montgolfieres. Other photos copyright Ari B. Adler.)