When making your plans on whether or not to go ballooning, or when, the wind is a very important factor in your decision process as the wind will directly affect your ability to launch. To help provide you with the decision making tools we are providing local information from our own weather station right here in Rio Rancho, New Mexico as well as wind information for the greater Albuquerque area. In addition to the current wind conditions, we are also providing forecast data based on the best weather models available to help you make your plans on what days it might be best to go ballooning.

We have added this as a page (WIND) so that you don’t need to scroll down to this information, and for a quick look, we have added the current wind data widget to the lower left side of the blog.


(you can move, zoom, and manipulate this map for more localized information)



Weather information courtesy of Weather Rio Rancho/Rio Rancho WX


American Girl’s “Saige Paints the Sky” movie will be released on DVD starting July 2nd. The movie was filmed around Albuquerque and New Mexico and showcases the beautiful scenery of the state while telling Saige’s story. You can see it on Saturday, July 13th at 8/7c on NBC or pick up the DVD for a glimpse of New Mexico’s scenic beauty.

American Girl Saige Doll

Enter to win a Saige-inspired trip to Albuquerque

We are thrilled that American Girl’s® Girl of the year, Saige Copeland, calls Albuquerque, New Mexico her home! She loves riding horses on her grandma’s ranch, painting New Mexico’s beautiful scenery and balloon rides above the city, which is known as the Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World.

To celebrate, we are sending one lucky girl and her family on a Saige-inspired trip to Albuquerque – plus she’ll get her very own Saige Doll, signed books, a $400 VISA gift card and more!

Plan Your Trip

Plan your own Saige-inspired trip to Albuquerque

We hope many girls and their families will choose to travel to Albuquerque to experience a little taste of what Saige’s story is all about. Visiting families can be inspired by the same types of activities that Saige would enjoy around the city.

Plan your own trip incorporating events and activities inspired by Saige’s love for art, nature and hot air balloons. There are even some Saige-inspired hotel packages to choose from!



Albuquerque featured in “Saige Paints the Sky” movie

American Girl’s “Saige Paints the Sky” movie will be released on DVD starting July 2nd. The movie was filmed around Albuquerque and New Mexico and showcases the beautiful scenery of the state while telling Saige’s story. You can see it on Saturday, July 13th at 8/7c on NBC or pick up the DVD for a glimpse of New Mexico’s scenic beauty.









Istanbul (CNN) — Three Brazilian tourists were killed when two hot air balloons collided in Turkey on Monday, the semiofficial Anadolu news agency reported, citing local officials.

The accident, which also injured 22 people, occurred in Turkey’s popular tourist destination of Cappadocia, the central Turkish region famous for its chimney rocks, cave houses, underground cities and balloon trips.

Abdurrahman Savas, governor of the central province of Nevsehir, said the balloon’s envelope ripped open after colliding with the basket of another balloon. Ahmet Tetikci, a spokesman for the town of Ortahisar, told CNN one balloon struck the other balloon from the top, and the second balloon went down.
NFL player burned in balloon crash

Tourists, from Brazil, Argentina and Spain, were taken to hospitals in Nevsehir and the neighboring Kayseri province. The governor visited injured tourists at the private Cappadocia Hospital.

How safe is hot air ballooning?

The crash is the latest in a string of hot air balloon accidents this year.

In March, pro football player Donte Stallworth was among two people injured when their balloon crashed into power lines in Miami. In February, a gas explosion caused a balloon to plummet from the sky in Egypt, killing 19 people in the deadliest balloon crash in decades.

Putrajaya’s hot air balloon fest


Ready to roll: Event director Izzati Khairudin doing her rounds at the fiesta grounds.

The Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2013, returns to its Millennium Monument grounds for the fifth consecutive year.

A SEA of colourful, multi-shaped hot air balloons has been dotting the Putrajaya skies recently. The balloons, contoured to the shape of a SIM card, Smurf cartoon character, monkey and elephant, have been “floating” around at the 5th Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2013, which is currently taking place at the Millennium Monument (Monumen Alaf Baru) in Precinct 2, Putrajaya.

Organised by AKA Balloon Sdn Bhd, Putrajaya Corporation (PPj) and the Malaysian Sports Aviation Federation (MSAF), the annual four-day event attracts more than 300,000 visitors. Coordinating and arranging every aspect of the mammoth event is no simple task but it’s something the Khairudin family has been doing since the inception of the fiesta in 2009.

Izzati and Atiqah Khairudin – also known as the “balloon sisters”, were barely out of school when their dad roped them in to help with the event.

“We didn’t have a choice!” they say, laughing. “We had been exposed to balloon rides since we were kids so our father put us to work. We call it forced labour!”

The late fiesta chairman and co-founder Khairudin Abd Rani was an avid hot air balloon enthusiast who got interested in the sport when he was studying in the United Kingdom. A civil engineer, he opted for early retirement and started AKA Balloon Sdn Bhd in 1995 to pursue his passion. He brought in instructors from the UK, licensed five local pilots and offered hot air balloon rides to the public.

Eventually, he decided to organise a hot air balloon meet in Malaysia because there was none at that time. The purpose was to show the different hot air balloons, and to put Malaysia on the ballooning map.

Around 20 balloonists, mostly contacts and friends, were invited to participate and they come from all over the world.

Izzati (left) and Atiqah Khairudin, the hot air balloon sisters.

“Dad chose Putrajaya as the location because there was plenty of empty space to land (the balloons). He would oversee the flying section while I was tasked to look after the events side,” says event director and eldest sibling Izzati, 26. “I was thrown in the deep end and didn’t know what to expect in the first year.”

The ground events include tethered hot air balloon rides, helicopter rides, remote control balloon demonstrations, zorbing, car simulators, hamster roll games, archery, wall climbing, paintball and a host of other activities.

When it rains or is too windy, the balloons do not fly for safety reasons. The sisters then have to put up with thousands of irate visitors, some of whom have travelled from different states just to see the balloons.

Assistant event director Atiqah, recalls, “One time, I just stood and cried because I couldn’t take the pressure from the crowd! They kept scolding me and I didn’t know what to do. It’s a challenge to deal with the crowd’s tantrums.”

The tethered hot air balloon rides are also cancelled if the weather is bad. Only 300 tickets are available for sale an hour before the five to seven-minute ride. For RM20 per person, the balloon will be hoisted 50-70 feet off the ground.

“Since we don’t pre-sell the tickets, people start queuing up from as early as 4am. It’s crazy!” says Atiqah, 24.

“In case the weather prohibits the balloons from flying, visitors can ask for a refund as tickets sold cannot be carried forward.”

Sadly, Khairudin passed away unexpectedly after a heart attack last December. The family was shocked as he had just returned from playing a game of tennis. They rallied together to continue where he had left off.

“It’s been hard without dad. He handled all the logistics and we handled all the ground affairs. Thankfully, we have the experience from the past fiestas. My mom has taken over my dad’s role, with the help of dad’s friend Mohammad Sobri Saad, who is the fiesta chairman,” relates Izzati.

Another younger sister Hafizah also helps out with the merchandising while the youngest brother has just gotten involved.

Since mom was a former banker, she doubles up as the financial controller of the fiesta. There is a main team of seven youngsters in the office while during the fiesta, more than 50 helpers are on duty.

A unique hot air balloon called Three Wise Monkeys.

“My little sister is very garang and we can see that she is very capable and manages things well. Don’t mess with her,” chuckles Atiqah.

“We’re also lucky because our team is young, with the average age of 23, and willing to learn.”

The first two years was literally a one-man show for Izzati, an accountancy graduate, as her sisters only came onboard in the third year.

“My dad never really gave advice on how to do something. He expected us to learn by example. We miss his lively presence. He had mentioned a few times that ‘After this, I can rest and you can take over’ but we never thought his demise would be so sudden,” recalls Izzati.

As a tribute to him, the fiesta kicked off with a memorial flight on Thursday. Khairudin would be proud of how he has raised his children. Not only are they pleasant and responsible adults, the sisters are also an enterprising lot. Every Ramadhan, they bake cookies for sale.

Izzati says, “My parents make sure everything we do is well earned. There are no easy paths or short-cuts. We’re very loud and bossy and I’m like the quality controller. If something doesn’t meet my expectation, I’m not happy.”

Atiqah rolls her eyes. “Whether at home or in the office, all we do night and day is talk about ballooning! Dad’s passion has become our passion as well.”

While Izzati confesses to being anal about everything, Atiqah says she’s quite the opposite.

Powering up: Getting ready for lift-off.

“In school, my parents would either be called in because Izzati was receiving some award or I was being disciplined. I’ve gotten better now,” smiles Atiqah.

Izzati just got married last year and now, her hubby is also involved, running the coffee stalls at the fiesta.

The first two days of the fiesta have seen the sisters running around madly at the grounds, armed with constantly ringing smart phones.

Stocks had to be replenished, crowds had to be controlled, unauthorised vendors were crashing the events and the media wanted to speak to them …it’s been sheer madness but the girls have taken it in their stride.

“Four days is more than enough. We cannot do more than that. It’s too much,” says Izzati, letting out a sigh.

The fiesta offers lots of exciting activities that will keep the young ones occupied – from colouring competitions and stage performances by cartoon characters to carnival games and rides.

Since it’s now the school holidays, it’s the perfect time to bring children here.

One of the highlights of the fiesta is the night glow event. The balloons are lined up in the launch field, and are lit up according to music. There’s also a “conductor” to ensure the balloons, music and fire are synchronised. The night culminates in a fireworks display.

By Sunday, the fiesta will be over and after a short respite, the Khairudin sisters will start planning again for the next fiesta, which keeps getting bigger. It’s been months of hard work and sleepless nights.

“Right after this, I’m going for a massage,” declares Atiqah, slumping back into a chair.

“Then, we want to get our balloon pilot’s licence. We’d also like to take the fiesta to other states eventually.”

Izzati adds, “We try to improve every year. We’re toying with the idea of organising a balloon music fest like in the west.”

The 5th Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2013 takes place till March 31. Admission to the fiesta is free but visitors are encouraged to use the KLIA Transit to Putrajaya as KLIA Transit will be offering a 30% discount on ticket rates during the fiesta. From the Putrajaya station, the public can take the Nadi Putra buses which will ferry them directly to the venue. For more information, log on to myballoonfiesta.com.

On Friday, March 22nd, 2013,  Mayor R.J. Berry signed a change to the City of Albuquerque  ordinance that allows hot air balloon pilots to launch and land anywhere within Albuquerque city limits.

In the Ballooning Capital of the world it hardly made sense for it to be illegal to allow balloon launching and landing on public land in the City.  This ordinance now allows launching and landing on public land, pilots still need permission to use private land.

Quite often due to a depleting propane supply and wind conditions, hot air balloon pilots have little choice but to come down.  They can try to find an open area so they don’t cause property damage, but that is about all they can do as they are mostly at the whim of nature and what they are given to work with.  A pilot can raise or lower his or her balloon in hopes of changing direction, but their speed and direction is dictated by the wind at their current elevation.

City of Albuquerque New Mexico Flag
City of Albuquerque New Mexico Flag



Event Information

Dates: February 9, 2013 – February 10, 2013
Time: 7am launch both days
Admission: Free

Balloon Fiesta Park
5000 Balloon Fiesta Parkway
Neighborhood: Balloon Fiesta Park/N I-25
Phone: 505-265-2865

Bring your family, a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and enjoy the view as a close-knit group of local balloon pilots launch up to 135+ hot air balloons over Valentine’s Day weekend.

  • Coordinator: Colleen Johnson
  • eMail: FriendsandLovers@hotairballooning.org

This well attended rally is held each year near Valentine’s Day at the Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque.
The Albuquerque Balloon Museum will be hosting a breakfast at the rally on February 9th

In conjunction with the Friends and Lovers Balloon Rally, the Albuquerque Balloon Museum is offering a breakfast from 6-10am. Tickets include a breakfast buffet, cash bar, admission to the Balloon Museum, entertainment, free shuttle service to Balloon Fiesta Park for the Friends and Lovers Balloon Rally, as well as raffle prizes including a hot air balloon ride and more.


Dates: February 9, 2013
Time: 6-10am
Admission: $30 per person, $5 for children 4-12

Albuquerque Balloon Museum
9201 Balloon Museum Dr NE
Neighborhood: Balloon Fiesta Park/N I-25
Phone: 505-768-6020

Contact Information

Name: Linda Hubley
Department: Balloon Museum
Phone: (505) 768-6020

Physical Address

9201 Balloon Museum NE

Albuquerque NM 87113

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 1293

Albuquerque NM 87103

Sandy Hook Elementary Balloon Glow
Sandy Hook Elementary Balloon Glow

December 21, 2012

Commemorative Balloon Glow in memory of the Newton, Connecticut Elementary School Shooting

4 – 7 p.m. (arrivals beginning 3 p.m.)

Minimum of 26 balloons; one for each of the victims

Using North Gate entrance

Event Contact: Slade Bogle (505) 261-9605

Call Susan Rice, (505) 768-6050 for more information about events at Balloon Fiesta Park.


12/17/2012Albuquerque named to top lists for travel for 2013
Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

Megan Mayo Ryan, Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau
office (505) 222-4349; cell (505) 321-7367, mayo@itsatrip.org

Albuquerque named to top lists for travel for 2013

Albuquerque, NM – The experts at Fodor’s Travel announced today that Albuquerque has been named among the Top 25 Places to Go in 2013. Fodor’s editors have chosen Albuquerque as a hot travel destination because of our excellent value for visitors, calling the city an affordable getaway for nature lovers and families. Albuquerque’s visibility on the AMC show “Breaking Bad” has also helped elevate the destination’s profile for travelers.

“The places on our Go List are our ‘must-dos’ for the coming year. Travelers should add these far flung and domestic destinations to their 2013 itinerary,” said Arabella Bowen, Executive Editorial Director at Fodor’s Travel. The cities were selected by Fodor’s senior editorial team who began with an initial list of 75 global travel spots, narrowing them down to the final 25 locales on the Go List after heated internal debate.

The story highlights a slower pace of life and calls out the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the ABQ BioPark and Gruet Winery as highlights. Two local lodging boutique properties were called out by the editor – Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm and the Hotel Andaluz – and appropriate for this time of year, Fodor’s mentions the Luminaria Tour at the holidays as a special time to visit Albuquerque. The complete story is available here: http://www.fodors.com/go-list/2013/.

Albuquerque has also been highlighted as one of 20 Awesome Winter Foodie Destinations by Zagat.com again focusing on Los Poblanos. The story, which is available here: http://blog.zagat.com/2012/12/20-awesome-winter-foodie-destinations.html, says “If you haven’t experienced the great Southwest, now is the time and Albuquerque the place to start.”

Just west of Albuquerque, the Acoma Pueblo was also named one of “12 most extreme places in America worth visiting” by BudgetTravel.com and showcased on FoxNews.com. The list is a compilation of longest, coldest, hottest, biggest and oldest. That’s where Acoma “Sky City” Pueblo comes in; it is said to be one of the oldest sites in North America.

For more Albuquerque rankings, visit http://www.itsatrip.org/albuquerque/whats-new/top-ranking.aspx.

These past two days the Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association held their annual “Friends and Lovers” February ballooning event.  On neither day was the weather good enough to fly so I thought it would be appropriate to post a blog about the weather and the conditions that generally prevent balloonists from flying.

“Weather” to Fly or Not – That is the Question?

 The Conditions that Will Keep us on the Ground  

 Wind      words to look for in a forecast: gusty, breezy, windy, blustery, small craft warningsstrong wind , high wind warnings

        Wind is the most critical factor in safe ballooning; it effects every phase of a flight. More balloon flights are cancelled due to wind than for any other reason. Balloons fly best in light and stable winds of 4-6 miles per hour. Maximum winds are 8-10 mph. Here are the reasons wind is such an issue:

  •     During inflation the balloon is filled with cold air using a fan. The balloon fabric is just a giant sail, and winds approaching 10 mph make it almost impossible to fill the balloon. The wind will cave the side of the balloon in and the resulting sail effect places tremendous loads on both the fabric and the basket. These forces can be 3-10 tons depending on the size of the balloon. The balloon will roll around, sometimes violently. It is tied off to keep even a gentle breeze from causing it to drag downwind, but we have seen a gust cause the balloon to drag the trailer and van it was tied to across the grass! Pretty impressive to watch – not much fun!

  •     Strong winds in flight can take the balloon farther than the pilot has room to fly. Since a balloons flight path and the distance it will travel is dictated solely by the wind’s speed and direction, this can be an issue if high winds carry the balloon into areas that are unsuitable for a landing. Such areas include: metropolitan areas, large expanses of forest, restricted airspace, and large bodies of water. All of these are factors in our immediate flying area.

  •     Lastly, there is the landing. A balloon’s speed across the ground will be the speed of the wind it is flying in. High wind speeds mean that the pilot needs a larger area to land in. A balloon relies on the friction of the basket dragging along the ground to come to a stop. In a high wind landing, you are trying to stop 3-10 tons, depending upon the size of the balloon,  without brakes – the basket will skip, drag and bounce along the ground. It will eventually layover on its side while continuing to drag along the ground. Again, impressive just not much fun.

Winds Aloft

        The winds on the surface are just one of our concerns. We have to think three dimensionally and consider what the wind is doing at altitude as well. This is perhaps the most confusing aspect for our passengers. There is not even a hint of a breeze and your flight has just been cancelled due to wind, how come? We look at winds at the surface (the wind you can feel) and the winds at 1 to 9,000 feet.  We are not going to go to 9,000 feet, but it tells us if we might encounter issues such as wind shear, turbulence, or strong surface winds later on. Even if there are no winds to speak of at the surface, the winds aloft may drive our decision not to fly. Winds aloft of 18-20 knots or 20 miles per hour can be sufficient to reschedule a flight.

Poor Visibility         words to look for in a forecast: foggy, hazy, misty                               

        How far can we see? Our aircraft are designated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as Visual Flight Rules (VFR) certified. That means we must have a certain amount of visibility to legally fly. The visibility must be 1 to 3 miles, depending on where we are flying. If we don’t have it, we can’t fly!

Rain & Storms  words to look for in a forecast: thunderstorms, rain, chance of showers or storms

picture of lightning

        The decision not to fly in rain or storms seems a simple one – of course we don’t! What isn’t so simple is why your flight may be cancelled when no storm or rain actually happens in the area. We must often make our decision based on a forecast. Despite the many advances in weather prediction, forecasting remains an imprecise science. We often refer to forecasts as “horoscopes with numbers.” Our idea of long range forecasting is 4 hours and we don’t place a great deal of faith in them! Forecasts for our flying area are limited to the Double Eagle Airport and the Albuquerque International Airport (Sunport) . We are practically equal distance between the two and what happens in our flying area may be very different from the forecast – both good and bad!

        Storms can be significant events to any type of aircraft, but a balloon is perhaps the most weather sensitive aircraft there is. An airplane can turn and run from a storm whereas a balloon is drawn into a storm. The winds will accelerate and head toward a building storm and flow out of a decaying storm. These gust fronts can occur 75 to 100 miles away from the actual storm and create winds that are dangerous to a balloon. Once again, it’s the wind! If storms are forecast or there are storms within 100 miles we will reschedule flights.


        Since hot air balloons fly by changing the temperature inside the balloon with heat, it stands to reason that outside air temperature is going to affect balloon flights, and it does! When the air in the balloon is heated, it becomes hotter and thus less dense than the surrounding outside air. This hotter air is “lighter” and the balloon will float upward. The more heat, the higher up you go. A balloon will fly when its temperature is around 140 degrees above the outside air temperature (generally). So, the colder it is outside, the less heat it takes to fly and conversely, the hotter it is outside, the more heat it will take to fly. Can’t wrap your head around this? Here is an example:

Outside Air Temperature    +   Heat it Takes to Fly (140 F)  =   Temperature Inside the Balloon
    Cold day of 30 degrees F     + 140 F                   =  170 degrees inside the balloon
Hot  day of 95 degrees F     + 140 F                   =  235 degrees inside the balloon (more heat if it’s hot out)

        This is of particular concern to companies operating smaller balloons. The smaller the balloon, the less lift capacity it will have and the hotter it must be inside the balloon for it to fly. The maximum continuous operating temperature for most hot air balloons is 250 degrees Fahrenheit. That leaves little margin for safety and for maneuvering on a very hot day.

Courtesy fun-flying.com