May 15, 2006
Air, Wheels, and Wind in Alburquerque

I went to New Mexico this weekend to help encourage the Balloon Fiesta organizers there to consider working more with the kite community.

Albuquerque hosts an enormous balloon rally each October. The balloons launch at dawn -- before the wind arrives. They drift away leaving thousands of spectators at the edge of a huge field wondering what to do next. And then the wind begins to blow.

Balloon Launch Balloon Launch

Organizers have experimented with kites a bit in the past. And for Mother's Day Weekend, they decided to present an event with balloons (air), bicycles (wheels) and kites (wind). Fliers from Colorado to Texas descended on the grassy field. Gayle Woodul and I brought a couple of big ones to hint at the potential.

After an early morning launch of about 40 balloons by the local club, we headed up to the new museum building. It is an impressive modernistic building overlooking the Fiesta Field. And if the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum bad a balloon wing, this is what it would look like inside. There were historical photos, large record setting gondolas, classical memorabilia, and interactive displays.

Museum Museum Museum

Later in the morning, I was asked to judge the McGyver Kitemaking Contest. Participants were given trash bags, coat hangers, duct tape, and glue. They were supposed to come back with a kite.

Kite Contest

The two primary problems, of course, was first that there was no wind, and second, the balloon folks think you need gas to fly. Lack of any real kite background might have been a third issue.

What we got back were things like a cardboard "box kite", and a wire-framed eddy that I insisted we not fly near any power lines -- assuming it could fly at all!

Kite Contest

Most of the first day, the winds were warm, light, and gusty. If there had been much of a crowd, we would have used the golf carts for towing kites into the air or organized bol races. Instead we set up banner displays around the field and sat back to exchange stories. By late afternoon, a tolerable breeze arrived.

Kites of NM Kites of NM Kites of NM

Day two, Mother's Day, was much more gracious. A solid inland wind bounced across the field, sending kites up and then dropping them down again. Hi desert fliers say this is as good as it gets. And besides, a big kite going up is more interesting than one sitting smoothly in the sky.

Buggies traversed the adjacent field with plenty of room to safely maneuver,

Kites of NM Kites of NM Kites of NM

Albuquerque has a world of potential. They have a wonderful field, an organization with a budget, and an opportunity to productively meld kites and balloons to everyone’s benefit. We could certainly use another world class kite event in North America. The high desert may be just the place!!

Maybe we'll find out then KTA brings their convention to Albuquerque in January, 2007.

Ghosts Riding the Sky

Ghost Sale: Sunday Afternoon, I flew a set of blue, purple, and black Ghosts. Pretty cool, huh!

If you'd like a similar set, let me know. Between now and May 20, we'll give you 20% off on one, two, or three pieces -- as long as you get either blue, purple, or black. We'll even let you pick the 11 or the 7 footers. Normal price is $70 or $150.

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