Tag Archives: aviation

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Part of life in Albuquerque is the annual balloon fiesta. For up to 9 days (weather allowing), 550 balloons launch at dawn and fill the skies; their adoring viewers fill the town. The fiesta adds a surreal whimsy to the week. More than once, I’ve walked outside to find a balloon 20 feet overhead, people waving as I stand sleepy with my morning tea. Sometimes the balloons have to land creatively, trying to avoid highways and power lines. Last year, I scheduled a doctor’s appointment on a morning during fiesta week. It was beautiful to drive into a field of glowing orbs but it didn’t bestow the greatest confidence in my fellow drivers.

When the conditions are just right, the wind forms a pattern called the “Albuquerque Box”. When The Box is in effect, ground level winds sink down the Rio Grande Valley, flowing south and higher winds flow north. By adjusting altitude (basically the only control for a balloonist), the balloon can circle back to the launching position. The Box was running both days I went this year, and we watched the pilots compete in navigation competitions.

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Balloonatics

Guess what I’ve been doing all week? Crippling my computer with photo editing! Yesterday the 44th annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta closed. And what a spectacle it was. No small wonder it’s sponsored by Canon. I would say more or describe more, but I am running on empty. So let these amazing images do the talking for me.

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A million views and a thousand balloons

Early this morning, my Flickr page crossed over the one million views threshold. Which is pretty exciting! I started my Flickr page almost exactly eight years ago, just after I got my first DSLR. Since then, I’ve taken a lot of pictures and learned a ton, and had a blast doing it.

million views

And early yesterday morning, I biked to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, one of the biggest hot air balloon gatherings in the world. It. Was. Amazing. The bike ride, the balloons, the launches, EVERYTHING. It was one of the most fun things I’ve done, and easily one of most exciting things to photograph. I took about 1500 photos (though a lot of them were duplicates to hedge my exposure bets). It’s been a wonderful weekend!

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Udvar-Házy Air & Space Museum

Did you know there are actually two Smithsonian Air and Space museum locations? There is one on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and a second in Virginia near Dulles Airport, called the Udvar-Házy Center. The Udvar-Házy location is an enormous hangar filled with historically significant aircrafts, aircraft parts, and spaceflight artifacts, including such highlights as the Enola Gay, an SR-71 Blackbird, and a space shuttle. If you are ever stuck at Dulles Airport and have some time to kill, there is a very cheap ($0.50 each way per person) shuttle between the airport and the museum.

For those unfamiliar with American aircrafts (as I mostly am), the Enola Gay is the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The SR-71 blackbird is the fastest plane ever built, even though it was built in the 70s. It flies so fast that at rest, its joints aren’t perfectly sealed, and it can leak fuel. This is because the metal expands significantly due to heat at high speeds. The museum also hold various antique aircrafts, aircraft oddities, engines and engine cross sections. Another area holds retired military planes, and a third area holds NASA artifacts. I went there a couple of years ago. My creative commons folder of images is here, and I include a few pictures below.

The SR-71 blackbird:

The Enola Gay: