Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2004
Each morning before dawn thousands of spectators crowd the grounds and watch as Dawn Patrol lights up the night sky. If conditions appear favorable, they radio ground control and all the other balloonists rush to the grounds and with their crews begin assembling and filling their balloons. As dawn breaks, one by one, clearance is granted by the "zebras" on the field and the morning sky fills with glorious hot air balloons of every color and shape.
Albuquerque is known as the "Balloon Capital of the World" for several reasons. Number one is this huge festival which draws hundreds of thousands of tourists to the city. The other reason is the Albuquerque "box effect". Local wind currents blow from north to south close to the surface but at a higher altitude switch to just the opposite - south to north. This means that balloons take off from the balloon grounds and float southward for a distance of a few miles then are able to raise up into the other current and float right back over the festival grounds drop down and repeat the cycle. Balloonists come here just to enjoy the ability to stay aloft for hours instead of just minutes. And the crowd loves it too!!
Special Shapes are always a crowd favorite!