Balloons experience rough landings during first weekend of Balloon Fiesta

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – We’re two for two in getting a green flag for Balloon Fiesta this year. But, sometimes conditions for smooth lift offs don’t necessarily mean smooth landings. 

“We were calling this the landing strip yesterday because a lot of balloons were coming across here and then going into this lot. Unfortunately, some of them haven’t seen the wires here, but we have been calling it the landing strip,” said Amy Swapp.  

Originally from Albuquerque Dave Markowitz fell in love with balloons at a young age. 

“I was 13 when I crewed and went on a tether ride and I said “Someday I’m going to fly those things” and it all came about,” said Dave Markowitz, the Just Fun Cat Balloon pilot. 

The veteran pilot sewed his Just Fun Cat balloon himself during the height of the pandemic.

Now, he’s able to enjoy the fruits of his labor in the Albuquerque sky at the International Balloon Fiesta. 

“Yesterday we were on the West Side down in Corrales and the winds started picking up I looked at my GPS, and I was landing at about 15 mph, came over a fence, landed on one side of the road. By the time the balloon had already stopped I had drug all the way across the road and into an empty lot,” said Markowitz. 

Both of Markowitz’s landings were relatively smooth, but that wasn’t the case for everyone this opening weekend. 

Amy Swapp saw a balloon outside her window Sunday morning that hit a power line near her house. Luckily, everyone was safe. 

“This is the second day in a row that these wires were hit by a balloon. This gentleman I went and talked to him, and he is doing fine,” said Swapp.  

Another landing KOB 4 cameras came across wasn’t as lucky. Emergency medical services came out to check on someone along with the sheriff’s department and PNM.  

Bella the Bulldog also had a run in with a power line. That pilot was able to bounce back and continue on their ride.

“I feel like this is part of Balloon Fiesta, you know, it is part of the fun that goes with the balloons and watching them and part of the packaged deal,” said Swapp.