Tuesday, October 1, 2013

White Sands Balloon Invitational

September 21-22, 2013

Unfortunately, weather conditions at White Sands prevented balloonists from launching their balloons on Saturday during the first day of the White Sands Balloon Invitational.

Launch time for Sunday, September 22, 2013 was 7:00 a.m. and the weather was perfect at the Alamogordo Balloon Park on LaVelle Road. Twenty-two years ago, Ed Brabson and the late Aubrey Dunn Sr. started this event on a bet.

"We put together a program for tourists called 'Sunbird.' We were discussing events to put on, then somebody bet Aubrey and me that we couldn't get clearance to fly hot air balloons in this air space," states Ed. "But we did. I didn't win anything but a lot of hard work every year, but it always puts a smile on my face."

Ed also said it takes coordination between the Holloman Air Force Base, White Sands Missile Range, the Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, ranchers, the city and the Federal Aviation Administration.

"It takes a lot of manpower and we have 15 or 16 volunteers on a committee that work year round," Ed further said.

Smokey Bear is always on hand at these events and the kids love it
These ladies in stripes are the launch directors
Testing the flame output
Mona Johnson, pilot of Casa de Sunshine balloon being interviewed
First balloon to launch is Swiss Cheese
Unloading Casa de Sunshine from the trailer
Balloons in various levels of airing up
Holding the topline rope to control the balloon as it rises
Up up and away in their beautiful balloons.....
Mona and crew attaching the burner
Lifting off
Mona attaching the burner gas lines in the basket
An unusually shaped balloon sporting a cityscape
So colorful and exciting to watch
Carla walking around taking pictures
The Casa de Sunshine almost ready to come upright
Looking straight up into a balloon
Several colorful balloons ready to launch
There were at least 50 balloons taking part
The Casa de Sunshine ready to launch
The Casa de Sunshine flying high
The Snoopy airplane balloon
Smokey Bear Balloon
L to R: One of the launch directors, Ed Brabson, and Carla
A launch director giving the thumbs up for launch
Four balloons in various levels from start to finish
This lovely animal is Lily enjoying the festivities
The sun coming up over the Sacramento Mountains
This crew is letting the balloon out gradually from a cart
This was a fun and exciting event. We talked to many people and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We left when it was over and headed to IHOP for some pumpkin pancakes. If you are ever out this way in September, try to make it during the White Sands Balloon Invitational. It is certainly a smaller version of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, but just as much fun without the hassle of traffic and humanity.

Doug and I collaborated on the photography this time.

This is all I have to say for now.

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