ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The long-awaited green flag on day two of Balloon Fiesta meant it was go time. Not just for the typical hot air balloons, but for the remote control (RC) hot air balloons too.

“They’re similar but also very different,” said Michael Steward, a remote control pilot from Albuquerque. Like regular hot air balloons, heat makes the RC balloons rise, and they go down as they cool down.

“It reacts a little differently. So, you have to learn a different reaction time in the burners and how much we put in it,” said John Davis, International Balloon Fiesta Board member and RC pilot. The biggest difference is there is no person in the basket, although you may see some stuffed animals and cartoon characters. Controlled by a remote, these balloons are also smaller.

“I can put the whole thing in the back of a golf cart instead of the back of a pickup truck,” said Davis. To mark 50 years of Fiesta, the RC pilots are trying to break a world record for the most RC balloons in the air at once.

“The current world record for RC balloons is held in Germany right now at 55 balloons,” said Steward. “We have to have 56 balloons in the air for at least 10 minutes to break it.”

For the 83 pilots registered to participate, it’s going to take practice. That’s what Sunday morning was all about.

“Today was a little bit of a practice day, make sure everybody’s comfortable out here. We have a lot of new pilots,” said Steward. They plan to attempt breaking the record on Wednesday. If they do, they plan to celebrate.


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“I think we’re going to have a big tailgate and do a little partying out here and celebrate that the record’s where it belongs in Albuquerque, New Mexico,” said Steward. Weather permitting, people can watch them attempt to break the world record on Wednesday at 7:30 a.m.