By Kelly W. Cauffman
For The HERALD
The Fifth Annual Elephant Days will also include a Balloon Regatta and Glow both Saturday and Sunday morning, Sept. 8-9.
“The balloons will be staged and lighted at the Elephant Days grounds Friday and Saturday nights,” according to organizer Al Lowenstein.
The balloons are scheduled to lift off from Lions Beach at 7 a.m., Saturday and Sunday.
“Of course it depends on the weather, but for the past five years we have had great weather. Perhaps I should not have said that,” Lowenstein laughs.
The first flight was completed in Paris, France, by Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois Laurent d’Arlandes on Nov. 21, 1783. This flight made hot air balloon technology the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology.
Observers can see how beautiful and graceful a hot-air balloon floats across the skies. But do you know what makes them so graceful in flight? A hot air balloon consists of a bag called the envelope that is capable of containing heated air. Suspended beneath is a gondola or wicker basket, which carries passengers and (usually) a source of heat, in most cases an open flame. The heated air inside the envelope makes it buoyant since it has a lower density than the relatively cold air outside the envelope.
In today’s sport balloons, the envelope is generally made from nylon fabric, and the mouth of the balloon (closest to the burner flame) is made from fire resistant material, such as Nomex. Beginning in the mid-1970s, balloon envelopes have been made in all kinds of shapes, such as hot dogs, rocket ships, and the shapes of commercial products, though the traditional shape remains popular for most non-commercial, and many commercial, applications.
The cost of these balloons are comparable to new car, used car. The balloons can range anywhere from $30,000 to $45,000. When asked about the cost of putting a balloon in flight, Lowenstein answered, “With the cost of gas, insurance, depreciation, repairs and other factors, the cost can range around $150 per flight.”
There will be approximately 15 balloons from Albuquerque, Colorado and Mexico at this year’s event.
Lowenstein, who operates a flight school in Albuquerque, has been flying for more than 15 years, and has enjoyed many experiences.
The community is encouraged to view the glow on Friday and Saturday night and the take off at 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. There will be memorabilia available for purchase at liftoff sights.