|View the Dawn Patrol and the Flight of the Nations Mass Ascension.|
Dawn Patrol ballons go up every morning to test the winds aloft, prior to allowing other balloons to fly. After they give the okay, the morning flights begin.
At 7:00 AM, the Flight of the Nations Mass Ascension begins.
The "international" part of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has been a tradition since the event's earlies days.
In 1973 and 1975, the Balloon Fiesta hosted the World Hot-Air Balloon Championships.
The Balloon Fiesta has also played host to the world's two most prestigious gas ballooning events, the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett (twice, in 1993 and 1999) and the World Gas Ballooning Championships (1994).
The Flight of the Nations especially honors pilots from all the nations participating in Balloon Fiesta.
The Wednesday mass ascension begins with flights by representatitve pilots from each country, who launch as their country's national anthem is played, flying their national flag.
Mass Ascensions - a launch of all the participating balloons - have been a feature of Balloon Fiesta since its earliest days and is the most spectacular display of sound and color in all of aviation.
During mass ascensions, balloons launch in two waves. Launch directors, known as "zebras" because of their black-and-white-striped outfits, serve as "traffic cops," coordinating the launch so balloons leave the field in a safe and coordinated manner.
Weather permitting, balloons begin to launch at about 7:15 am on mass ascension days, led by a balloon flying the American flag to the strains of "The Star Spangled Banner."
From 9:00-10:00 AM, you'll visit the AAA International Balloon Museum, located at Balloon Fiesta Park. Return to hotel about 10:00 AM, where you'll have some free time before lunch.