ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s a sight everyone has been missing in the Albuquerque skies. Saturday morning if conditions are right, you’ll start seeing hot air balloons again.
Rainbow Ryders, the largest hot air balloon ride operator in Albuquerque, showed us the changes they’ve made to keep passengers, pilots, and crew members safe. “Just like Walmart or a bank we are figuring out how we can separate people,” says Chief Pilot Troy Bradley.
Only the crew at Rainbow Ryders is social distancing thousands of feet in the air. “We’re expecting that it will hopefully bring some normalcy back to our everyday lives to see the balloons flying over Albuquerque again,” says Brad Rice, Human Resources Director.
Since the governor’s first public health order back in March. “We pretty munch canceled everything not being able to fly,” Rice says.
Rainbow Ryders pilots say they’re planning to take off for the first time again Saturday and they say they’ve used their time on the ground to create a safe environment in the air.
“The nice thing is we are operating in an outdoor environment so if you look outward you’re not having any kind of interactions in between the passengers but if you do look the other way you have this clear barrier where you can see the other side but also not have the possibility of having anybody having any infection,” Bradley says.
Along with the transparent dividers they’ve added to their larger baskets. they’re limiting the number of passengers in each balloon. “Depending on the size of the parties and the people that we have we are pretty much less than half of that capacity,” says Rice.
The company says normally hot air balloons play a big role in tourism but they’re hoping locals take advantage. “Maybe they aren’t going on vacation this year, so they’ll stay in town and do kind of a staycation and we give them a great opportunity to come out and fly with us,” says Bradley.
The pilots also said they will take the temperatures of passengers and crew members. Passengers are required to wear face masks. Rainbow Ryders will provide complimentary ones. Rainbow Ryders said crew members will wear gloves and masks at all times.