Local pilot on ‘Balloon Fall Fest’: “It will be the largest non-festival”

Balloon Fiesta

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city said the show must go on. With Balloon Fiesta canceled this year, the city is finding a new way to bring balloons to the sky this fall.

Pilot Tristan MacLean is ready for another October of ballooning. He took KRQE News 13 up to the skies for last year’s fiesta, but this year’s experience will be a lot different. Instead, the city will host ‘Balloon Fall Fest’ on October 3 through 11. “I was planning on flying already, and I am enthusiastic we would have some more landing spots opened up,” MacLean said.

Small groups of balloons will launch from city parks and golf courses which MacLean said will further spread balloons out over the metro. “We are so clustered during Balloon Fiesta that I think this is going to be a different experience for the pilots,” MacLean said. “This year, the sky will be filled with balloons versus years past when winds would take them through channels. This year, balloons will be everywhere.”

The city said no spectators will be allowed, and parking at each location will be blocked off. “APD will be patrolling the areas where they will be launched to ensure we don’t have traffic issues or violations of the governor’s executive order,” COO Lawrence Rael said.

MacLean said it is a lot less formal than the event they are used to. “It will be the largest non-festival,” MacLean said. “It is not official. Pilots are signing up to register so we know where they will be taking off, but none of the pilots will be giving a pilot briefing or weather briefing,” MacLean said.

While it is no Balloon Fiesta, MacLean said he is thankful they’re able to fly. “We really look forward to being out there, having fun, having smiles, new pictures, and new perspectives,” MacLean said. Out-of-state pilots are allowed, but Mayor Tim Keller said no exceptions will be made to the public health order. That means quarantine and testing requirements will apply to everyone.

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