Volunteers learn the ballooning basics ahead of Balloon Fiesta | KOB 4
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Volunteers learn the ballooning basics ahead of Balloon Fiesta

Megan Abundis
September 09, 2018 10:53 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – There are just four weeks left until the world’s largest hot air ballooning event, and Albuquerque's premiere festival.

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But the 47th annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta doesn't happen without lots of helping hands. Every year more than 1,000 volunteers help put on the event.

On Sunday, dozens of new ones got to learn the basics as the fiesta nears.

“It’s magical, it’s like a kaleidoscope of colors," said Andy Richardson, a seasoned pilot with Adams Balloons. "You see these beautiful pictures, but when you are physically there yourself, the pictures don’t do it justice."

That’s why some people are taking full advantage of the fiesta magic by volunteering at the event.

“Today a handful of balloons didn’t actually launch," Richardson said. "A lot of the balloons stayed on the ground and some of the new people got that learning experience to see what all else has to happen to make a balloon fly safely.”

It’s a chance to get familiar with ballooning procedures beforehand. For these volunteers, training for the big leagues means hands-on experience without the pressure of 150,000 people around them.

“The whole process from inflation to standing the balloon up," Richardson explained. "But (they) didn’t fly. Then they deflated the balloon and they were taught how to pack the balloon up. They got the full experience, minus the fun part, which is the ride.”

Launch directors affectionately known as zebras say teaching the ballooning basics is part of an effort to protect pilots and those who attend the event. “Safe coordinated launch!” is their motto.

There is still time to register for helping out at this year's fiesta, whether it be as a navigator or a chase crew member. 

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Megan Abundis

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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