Hot Air Ballooning in Albuquerque

By on April 11, 2015

By Bonnie Carroll−

Life is But a Thermal Airship Dream

As I was waiting in my hotel lobby for the Rainbow Ryder van to whisk me away at dawn to the open field where all the staff were preparing for the morning air balloon departures, I wondered if I was being a bit silly in trying to live out my bucket wish to float above the earth to photograph and enjoy the breath taking views below. Before I could get caught up in my own senior woman negativity we were jumping out of the van and hurrying toward a young guy with a clipboard who was handing out release forms and assigning riders to their designated balloon.

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We watched carefully as the hot fired-air was blown into the horizontally positioned balloons on the ground, and then smiled as they magically began to rise. The Rainbow staff helped each person climb the outside basket steps to get over and into the basket, and finally our group had fully occupied the basket for take-off. We listened carefully as our navigator Troy explained how to hold the inner handles and lean back against the basket side in a sitting position upon landing or if the wind should tip us over.

hot air ballooningThe hissing sound of the air was quite noisy at take-off, but as we became airborne there would suddenly be a blissful silence that created a magical and surreal experience as we viewed the open land, river and residences below us as the sun came up and made everything glow in living color. Our navigator used the hot air skillfully to make the balloon rise and fall depending on what sights he was pointing out below. The Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum was an impressive site from where the birds travel. At one point we dropped very low to have a close up view of the river, which was so fantastic. I was able to photograph our sister balloon just below us near the river and this photo ended up becoming my favorite of the trip.

Most of the people in my basket were also experiencing their first balloon ride, and were as awe struck as I at this exquisite opportunity to see the world from such an elevated level in the sky. It is not like any other air adventure I have had, It is much different than helicopters, small planes or gliders. It is similar to gliders only in the quiet that fills your whole being while floating over communities and farmland. The meditative silence was only broken every so often by the hissing sound of new air to raise the level of the balloon.

Sadly, our ride on the thermal airship drifting with the wind was over too soon, and we began our decent for a landing in the field. Our landing went smoothly, however, I was glad I listened to my navigator Troy at take-off and leaned back on the basket in a sitting position holding the handles in front of me because when we landed the basket suddenly was tipped over and we went down. We were all fine and crawled out of the basket laughing.

A van was waiting for us to take us to a lovely park area where we enjoyed champagne, juice, sweet rolls and croissants as the general manager of Rainbow presented us with certificates of completion, little gold rainbow pins, and heard their special prayer that said ‘The winds have welcomed you with softness.’ The sun has blessed you with his warm hands. You have flown so high and so well that God has joined us together in laughter and set us gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth” – Irish Balloonists’ Prayer.

hot air ballooning bonnie carrollWe also got a short history on the first manned air balloon ‘flight” purported to happen in the village of Gonesse France (close to the present Charles De Gaulle Airport) on November 21st in the late 1700s, navigated by Pilatre De Rozier and the Marquis D’Arlandes and built by the Montgolfiere brothers. Sadly, this first adventure ended with a group of terrified farmers trying to kill the strange machine with pitch forks, thinking it was a work of the devil. When King Louis XVI heard of this he encouraged the men to try another flight and take champagne to keep the farmers happy, and obviously it worked.

Following my ride back to the hotel, I sat by the pool and pondered how proud I was to have faced my fears and pursued the completion of a dream I have had for as long as I can remember. Would I do it again? Was it worth repeating? Oh, yes I will, and absolutely yes it was! If you are in Albuquerque and looking for an amazing air ballooning experience in a community that has spent decades perfecting the art of air ballooning in New Mexico this is the place. From October 11-13 Albuquerque will hold their annual International Balloon Fiesta and it’s definitely at the top of this woman’s wish list. Visit for details.

Bonnie Carroll is founder/publisher/editor-in-Chief of Bonnie Carroll’s Life Bites News (, founded in 2005. She is a writer who has contributed to countless newspapers and magazines on travel, food, lifestyle and health. Her travel reports can be heard on KZSB Radio, and she is currently completing her second children s book. She can be contacted at email: [email protected].

About Bonnie Carroll

Bonnie Carroll has been a food/travel/lifestyle writer since 1983. She is the founder & publisher of Bonnie Carroll’s Life Bites News, does travel and food reporting on KZSB1290 radio, and contributes to a variety of national and international travel/lifestyle publications. Her first children's book C.C. Charles was published in 2002 and she is currently working on a second book. Her first great grandchild is expected this summer. Contact her at [email protected]

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Hot Air Ballooning in Albuquerque