Video of 700 Hot Air Balloons Launching at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Joel Schat filmed and edited a wonderful time-lapse video, showing some of the 700 hot air balloons that launched at the 41st annual International Balloon Fiesta, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

On hearing that it’s a 9-day festival, it sounded to me like there needed to be schedules for which day a particular balloon could launch. But in reading some of the notes from the event, the “Dawn Ascension” event has participants launching one right after another. So many participate in this event that 500+ balloons take off in the space of an hour and a half.

It sounds amazing, and the video is pretty much proof that it is.

In watching the endless shapes and colors float by, I found myself wondering how someone controls where a hot air balloon goes. I get that the flame thing helps the balloon to rise, but how does one control something that just has one button? Outside of the bursts of ascension, is a hot air balloon ride essentially a very slow descent?

The notes on the video also suggest that hot air balloons land “anywhere they can,” which seems like a really imprecise method of landing. I wondered too about how hot air balloon operators “aim” towards their landing sites. I guess the wind would blow everyone in the same direction, but I imagine that despite the shared departure location everyone would end up in totally opposite directions.

I’m afraid of heights, but the hot air balloon thing… no, no. I was going to say that it seems tranquil and beautiful, and I could see myself enjoying the view, etc. But when I stopped to imagine it, my hands got clammy. I’m bad enough when I’m near a ledge or a window high up somewhere, so I can’t imagine being relaxed if I’m just a foot away from the basket’s edge.

Yeah, I’m sure it’s beautiful up there. But I’ll rely on the skillful work of people like Joel, to appreciate hot air balloons. Riding in a hot air balloon definitely looks like a lovely experience… at least from what I’ve seen. In a video. Which I watched, while firmly planted on the ground.

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