After Mexico 10, 9th October 2004

I'm still in Albuquerque of course, the balloon fiesta last around 10 days. Monday was windy, eventually everything was cancelled. It was a nice day so I went to Acoma, the sky city. Built on a mesa about 200 ft high it is claimed to be the longest continually inhabited place in the USA. Since the 1600's. That didn't impress me a lot. In the UK and in France there are very few places that have NOT been inhabited continuously since the 1600's! The houses are built of mud. Wow! My house in France was built of mud and was a whole lot smarter. But it was an interesting afternoon.

A mesa by the way is a high plateau, wider than it is high.

There was a storm Monday night. Hailstones getting on for an inch in diameter. When one of these biggies hit the van roof you could certainly hear it. Tuesday morning it was still wet and windy. I looked out and went back to bed.

Wednesday was better, Jeff flew. I wandered around. Here's a ground view.

And here's a picture of a lot of balloons.

I haven't tried to count the number of balloons in the photo. Maybe 200? There are 700 balloons here, so that photo shows only about one quarter of the balloons here.

Thursday there was a fly in to the field. But there was no box so most flights were quite short. In the mornings here the low wind is down the valley, generally there is a medium level upper wind up the valley. So you fly low, you go south, climb a bit, you go north, it's called the Albuquerque box. It means it's possible, often, to take off from the field, then land back on the field. In the evening there was a special shape display - there are over 100 special shape balloons here - followed by fireworks. I watched it all from an RV parked in the official VIP campground overlooking the field, I had been invited to dinner by local friends of Olivier Roux Devillas from France.

Friday flight decisions were postponed, it was windy. Finally the organisation decided no competition, flights at pilots discretion. Most decided not to fly, and about 50 balloons flew, out of total 700 here. Jeff stayed on the ground. I would have done too. Friday evening was another special shape inflation day followed by another fireworks display. I watched all this from the field.

After each flight here there are tailgate parties. People return to the field, lower the tailgates of their pickups, spread out food and drinks, and party. There are no rules to say you should not add tables and chairs, and most people do. Some even bring in a professional cook to prepare cooked breakfasts. Little cat has a great time exploring and making friends. So do I.

Saturday was a nice day. This is the launch field from the air. We were away early, and at the time of the picture had already flown the box, starting to the left, returning higher to the right, we were now flying right to left again. As it happens here we were in quite a fast airstream and were moving about 20 mph.

Looking back at more balloons in the air.

It was a little quick until we were almost on the ground and Jeff made an immaculate approach and landing. I couldn't have done better myself.

There are now even more pictures of little cat on my web site................

Best regards

David Barker

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