51st Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta comes to an end

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The end of the 51st Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta was more of a fizzle since the weather kept hundreds of balloons grounded on the final day.  

“It’s been really beautiful a couple of days. I think it was a little breezy, and they couldn’t take off, but when we went it was amazing,” said Maryann Houle. 

Overall, people saw seven days of Mass Ascensions this year. It was also a once-in-a-lifetime experience this year with Albuquerque being in the direct path of an annular eclipse.

People watched from Balloon Fiesta Park after Saturday’s Mass Ascension.

“This view, the people, the hundreds of thousands of people are here. This is just breathtaking. I love it. I just I couldn’t, I couldn’t have done it and find anything better,” said Zeno Chaply.

Some balloons had close calls throughout the week. A video showed the new special shape, Bella the Bulldog, hitting power lines. The pilot was able to get free and no one was hurt. 

People also saw a few rough landings – one causing some broken bones. 

The most dangerous situation came with the Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race. Poland Team 1 crashed after hitting power lines outside Dallas, Texas on Monday. 

One of the pilots claims they were trying to avoid gunfire when they got tangled in the power lines. Both pilots are expected to be OK but suffered serious burns and some broken bones. 

While it wasn’t completely smooth sailing this fiesta, most people agreed this year flew above expectations. 

“It’s just, it was just once in a lifetime, wonderful, wonderful experience. Just, you know, if you’ve never been you’ve got a come,” said Susan Newmann.