Albuquerque business to manufacture balloons

Updated: 08/19/2014 10:23 PM | Created: 08/19/2014 9:03 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Albuquerque is already known by many as the "hot air balloon capital of the world." Now, a local business called ABQ Hot Air wants to become a one-stop shop for designing and buying unique balloons.

Andy Richardson manufactured balloons in the Midwest for years. Now, he's opened shop in Albuquerque.

"With Albuquerque being the balloon capital of the world, I looked forward to coming to Fiesta every year," Richardson said.

Albuquerque already has repair shops, but Richardson says this will be the first full-service factory in town. ABQ Hot Air is already working on the "Rio Grande Raider," a pirate ship balloon that will mark the shop's first special shape sale. But before it can sail the skies, it will need an inspection.

"We need to be able to certify as a repair facility that it meets a certain standard, before the FAA can issue an airworthiness certificate. Hopefully soon we'll have that certification, but it's been a long time waiting," Richardson said.

Until approval, Richardson is focusing on ways to make balloons more affordable so more people can learn how to fly balloons.

"We've got a lot of attributes that make it worthwhile for people to not only enjoy ballooning, but to make the sport safer," Richardson said.

To learn more about the Rio Grande Raider, click here.

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