Dawn Patrol at the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque

Brrrr…It’s 5:45 AM and 37 degrees in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Lights from vendors brighten our path as we weave our way through the sea of people to the sound of loud speaker announcements. The Dawn Patrol on the first day of the 42nd Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has been slightly delayed due to the breeze.

Reluctantly I hand over $4.00 for a cup of coffee hoping it will return circulation to my hands and warm my cockles. Word blasts out that all but one ballon in the Dawn Patrol is ready to launch so we move as quickly as we can through the crowd to reach the gigantic grass field.

All of us here are privileged. This is the only hot air balloon festival in the world where observers can walk all over the field and right up to the balloons while the balloons are being set up and launched.

About twelve balloons make up the forerunner group known as the dawn patrol. By watching their early launch the other balloonists get a sense of wind direction and speeds at different altitudes. As dawn breaks the official Fiesta balloon takes the lead and launches to the tune of the National Anthem as it trails a large American flag beneath its gondola.

Whoosing flames add heat to each balloon. Slowly the remaining Dawn Patrol balloons take flight. It is a exciting sight.

We are here attending the WBCCI International Balloon Fiesta Special Events Rally along with 199 other Airstreams. The rally centers on the local event and has prime, (although no hook-ups) VIP parking adjacent to the balloon field.

More coming soon on the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and the rally.


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About the Author

I'm Renee Ettline. For twenty-something years my husband Fred and I have been Airstreamers. Since 2005 I've been writing for Airstream Life magazine on every topic from destinations and lifestyle to rivets and tires. Currently you'll find me in a section called, "Living the Life." We've Airstreamed from Alaska to Florida and California to Nova Scotia and loved every minute.