Albuquerque Aloft returns to unofficially kick off Balloon Fiesta

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque Aloft has been the unofficial kickoff to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta since 2005.

Pliots and crews took balloons to more than 100 schools in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, tethering or launching the balloons in front of all the students.

"I love the excitement of the kids and talking with them about ballooning and just all that kind of stuff," Neil Davison, pilot of Sonoran Sunset, said.

"It’s great, it’s just we haven’t had a lot of school events yet this year," Hayley Davis, a student’s mother, said. "I mean it’s just great to have a school event that we can get together for again."

"They’re our future pilots," Davison stated, "so if you can spark that interest, and have the ‘man I got to go out and play with the balloon one day,’ maybe we’re gonna get some pilots out of this crew."

Last year, ABQ Aloft was canceled due to the pandemic which took a toll on the ballooning community.

"We were all broken-hearted," Davison said. "Every balloon event across the country got canceled as a result."

Now, his crew is happy to be back together – and back in the sky – for the next nine days of Balloon Fiesta.

"This is a family reunion coming to Fiesta," Davison said. "Just getting to see everybody you know and talking to people that you haven’t seen in two years, we just love it."

Balloon Fiesta’s first mass ascension is scheduled for Saturday, October 2, at 7 a.m. Click here for more information.