Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Takes to Skies Oct. 1-9, 2011

Sunday, September 18 2011 20:38   Western Travel Buzz
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta will celebrate its 40th event with 550 hot air balloons representing 20 countries, and honoring the person who started it all in 1972 Sid Cutter, the founder and "Father of Fiesta."

The 40th event will occur Oct. 1-9, 2011 at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico. New this year will be the Sandia Resort and Casino $100,000 challenge, the richest active prize in ballooning.

balloon_fiestaIt will test pilots' skill and provide great visuals as competitors play an airborne version of ring toss, trying to connect with one of ten poles during the competitive flying events.

The mass ascensions will fill Albuquerque's morning skies with 550 hot air balloons on Oct. 1, 2, 8 and 9. The 16th America's Challenge Gas Balloon event, a cross country competition, and the popular Balloon Glows (featuring 200-plus hot air balloons in static display flickering their burners at sunset and into dusk) will round out the first weekend's evening events.

Opening day at Balloon Fiesta Park will also feature both a balloon version and airplane version of the "Missing Man Formation" balloon launch to honor the so-called "Father of Fiesta" Sid Cutter who passed away earlier this year.

Cutter, founder of the Balloon Fiesta, passed away on May 21, 2011 after a long battle with stomach cancer. Cutter was a veteran in the aviation industry being the son of aviation pioneers William and Virginia Cutter, founders of Cutter Aviation. After 40 years in the power aircraft aviation industry Cutter discovered the "magic" of ballooning in 1971 and devoted the next 25 years to the sport.

Cutter founded the Balloon Fiesta and the first and second Hot Air Ballooning World Championships as well as the Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association (AAAA), the largest balloon club in the world, and World Balloon Corporation.

The competitive flying starts on Monday of Balloon Fiesta week with pilots aiming to win the richest active prize in hot air ballooning in the Sandia Resort and Casino $100,000 Challenge.

Competitive flying will continue throughout the week, taking a break on Wednesday for the Flight of the Nation's. The Flight of the Nations will honor the 20 countries participating in the 40th event, as each flies their nation's flags from Balloon Fiesta Park.

Flying pigs, a giant butterfly and other unique objects are among the 99 special shape balloons that will take to the skies for their own mass ascension and balloon glows on Thursday and Friday at Balloon Fiesta Park. Additional Mass Ascensions and a Balloon Glow will be included in the final weekend.

The 2011 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta sponsors include Nikon, the official camera for this year's event.

For details on events, schedule, entertainment and photographs visit the Web site at .


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