ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For the first time, everyone will be able to experience the magic of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta from the sky as Rainbow Ryders teams up to make their rides more accessible.
“We’re really happy to let people know we are partnering with and making available at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta wheelchair-accessible hot air balloon rides,” said Rainbow Ryders President Scott Appleman.
This year, Balloon Fiesta is going to look a little different for some visitors.
“It’s a special balloon. It’s a special technique, special experience,” said Appleman.
The gondola is fully equipped for a wheelchair.
“We’re working with a local company here, Coddiwomple Ballooning, that does wheelchair rides year-round in the Albuquerque area. We worked with them at our event in Colorado Springs about a month ago,” said Appleman.
Wheelchairs can easily ride on and off the platform, and there’s now an area to see out from inside the gondola.
“It has plexiglass siding and a drawbridge plexiglass door,” said Coddiwomple pilot Mike Heffron.
The rides were a success at the Labor Day lift-off in Colorado so Appleman knew this was something they needed to bring back home to the fiesta.
“We wanted to bless people that aren’t normally able to fly in a hot air balloon. Of course, we love our sport, and we have a passion for it but there was never an opportunity for someone that was in a wheelchair,” said Heffron.
There are some limitations.
“We can not do like the battery-driven wheelchairs, but people that are mobile and wheeling they can do that,” said Appleman.
Right now, they are offering only one flight every day.
“So there’ll be 9 flights available. We need to have three people at a minimum to book the basket a very roomy basket, as you can see,” said Appleman.
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Applenan said they are thrilled to be able to make this new view happen.
“It’s something we’ve had a lot of request for in the past, and we have the capabilities with this new partnership in order for us to be able to supply it at the Balloon Fiesta,” said Appleman.
Anyone interested in a wheelchair-accessible ride is asked to contact Rainbow Ryders.