Santa Fe Trail International Balloon Rally

Hot air balloons will fly at 6:30am (weather permitting).

If you are a pilot interested in participating, please print and complete both a Pilot Application and Pilot Agreement.

Location: La Mesa Airfield Hwy 555 Raton NM 87740 USA

International Balloon Rally

July 2, 2016 – July 4, 2016 Hot air balloons will fly at 6:30pm (weather permitting).

If you are a pilot interested in participating, please print and complete both a Pilot Application and Pilot Agreement.
Location: La Mesa Airfield Hwy 555 Raton NM 87740 USA

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The countless pictures taken of Albuquerque’s balloon fiesta and the millions of words written about it have painted a wonderful picture of our premier event. We won’t try to add to those stories. However, there are a couple of other angles about the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta we would like to explore.

First, this week is definitely Albuquerque’s week to shine – or maybe soar would be a better word. While tourists enjoy Albuquerque and New Mexico as much as they enjoy the balloons, we get to enjoy seeing these visitors impressed with our hometown. We get to pat ourselves on the back as we hear folks praise our community and its beauty. The frustrations caused by traffic congestion and crowds at our favorite restaurants pale in comparison to the pride we feel in this place we have chosen to call home.

This is the one week of the year when we can put aside the problems facing the people who live here. We can, at least temporarily, forget our struggles with crime or education or poverty or those infuriating lists that continue to show us at the bottom. We can take a short break and just be proud that we live in this wonderful state. It’s good for our self esteem.

Second, credit must be given to fiesta planners who devote so much time and effort to create a perfect event, knowing all the time they have no control over the weather. It’s not as if the balloons can be moved inside if it’s too windy. It’s not as if the dates can be changed. At the end of the day, the weather is in charge.

Those planners of the balloon fiesta give so much heart and soul, not to mention blood, sweat and tears, to pull it all together, to make sure the balloon community, the visitors, the businesses and the city get to experience a wonderful fiesta. The amazing effort required that allows us to easily enjoy the beauty and the fun of the balloons is unbelievable.

And yet, after all this work, regardless of the exceptional planning, the fiesta is at the mercy of Mother Nature and her whims. It must get frustrating at times for the people who have devoted so much time and energy to this event to know it can all fall apart because of something they cannot control. These people deserve our appreciation for all their hard work, but also they deserve our appreciation for continuing in spite of the knowledge that unexpected weather can change everything, and they can’t plan for that.

On another note, we want to praise the folks responsible for the construction on Paseo del Norte. They have designed the work on this gargantuan project so that it hasn’t caused balloon fiesta traffic to be thwarted; people have still been able to get from Point A to Point B. The project managers deserve our praise.

We also are impressed with the amount of progress that has been made. The access from eastbound Paseo to southbound I-25 seems complete and works well. All of us have been watching the construction on the huge flyover to westbound Paseo and see it getting closer and closer to completion. We feel a bit of ownership as we have monitored its progress day after day and as we anxiously await its completion.

Contact the Ryans at

A pilot, who has been flying at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta since 1977, died this week. Friday morning, Gary Tarter’s friends made sure to honor him in true hot air balloon pilot fashion.

It’s easy to get excited about the new balloons and pilots at fiesta, but today was about remembering one of the originals.

Tarter was a pilot who made sure each October–his home was at Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta.

“Back in 1975, and I was a fairly new pilot, a guy came to me and was interested in me training him,” said David Dobel.

That guy was Tarter. A friendship was born and so was Tarter’s love for ballooning and balloon fiesta.

“It just became an annual thing.  He loved Albuquerque and he wanted to come back every year,” Dobel said.

During his favorite week of the year, tarter had a fatal heart attack.

His friends made sure his balloon would inflate one last time—an honor to a great pilot, an honor to a great friend.

“We stood around and had our final moments,” said Dobel. “We talked about some of the things we remember about Gary.  It was a fitting closing for us as pilots and friends.”

Pilots often describe flying as soaring through the heavens. They now are permanently joined by their friend Gary Tarter