ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — 10:45 a.m.
Authorities reported at least one hard landing that resulted in injury this morning.
Rio Rancho police say a balloon landing in Rio Rancho hit a curb, tipping the gondola over and causing a leg injury to one occupant.
A 68-year-old man was transported to Presbyterian Hospital’s Rust Medical Center, police reported.
New Mexico State Police are taking over the investigation.
A few balloons are still in flight, but most that launched as part of Sunday morning’s Dawn Patrol or Farewell Mass Ascension have landed at Balloon Fiesta Park or elsewhere. Crews manning the balloons that have landed at Balloon Fiesta Park are packing up and heading off the field.
Balloon officials said that this year’s fiesta was one of the most successful in recent memory. Only one event was canceled due to weather.
Some of the Balloons that launched as part this morning’s Farewell Mass Ascension are returning to Balloon Fiesta Park to land after staying aloft a little over an hour.
Many of the balloons that drifted over the river were able to perform “splash and dash” techniques, touching their gondolas into the Rio Grande while in flight.
Journal reporter Elaine Tassy was on the field Sunday morning and filed the following report:
Some of the balloons that were part of this morning’s Farewell Mass Ascension:
Humpty Dumpty, Smokey the Bear, and a balloon from Plains Corporate Bank that looked like it had impaled a cow, and a pink pig with wings that said “When Pigs,” a reference to when pigs fly, a purple, green, yellow and black one with a dragon on it, and another one that was violet with ribbon-like stripes wrapped around it which a DJ narrating the event said looked like an easter egg.
Some of what was heard and seen at the Farewell Mass Ascension on Sunday morning, the ninth and final day of the 42nd annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, amidst whistles, cheers, calls of “Yay” and lots of oohs and ahhs:
A woman with thigh-high boots looking directly skyward: “Ascend!” An Australian pilot and crew member encouraging spectators to have their picture taken while pulling on the crown line of his balloon: “It’s the best event we’ve ever attended.” A woman with a balloon-shaped felt hat on, with a button in it that said: “Want a free hug?”: “Hey there, good morning! Want a free hug?”
– Elaine Tassy
Balloons are staying aloft this morning in calm conditions and surface and higher-level winds creating a “box.” A “box” is a phenomenon where winds near the ground flow in one direction, and higher-level winds flow in another. This allows balloons to stay aloft for a longer period of time than other wind conditions.
Balloons taking part in Sunday morning’s Mass Ascension have inflated on the field, the balloon carrying the American Flag has launched over Balloon Fiesta Park, and the final Mass Ascension of the 2013 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is lifting off.
Balloons taking part in Sunday morning’s Mass Ascension are inflated on the field awaiting launch. The balloon carrying the American Flag is flying over Balloon Fiesta Park as the “Star-spangled Banner” is being sung. Balloons are expected to lift-off momentarily.
The field at Balloon Fiesta Park is fully open for any pilots to launch and balloons are inflating before the first wave begins.
Dan Pagliaro, lead meteorologist for Balloon Fiesta, said during the Sunday pilot’s meeting that winds will create a “box” this morning, although it will be weak as winds are relatively calm. A “box” is a wind phenomenon where winds near the ground flow in one direction, and higher-level winds flow in another. This allows balloons to stay aloft for a longer period of time than other wind conditions.
Balloon pilots are expected to begin flying towards the Rio Grande river valley and then begin heading back towards Balloon Fiesta Park.
Pagliaro said that wind speeds are expected to increase throughout the morning.
Officials said during Sunday morning’s pilot briefing that Dawn Patrol balloons will launch in two waves, with balloons with odd numbers launching first.
Balloons taking part in Sunday morning’s Dawn Patrol are inflating on the field.
Officials are flying the green flag at Balloon Fiesta Park Sunday morning, signaling that conditions are safe for final day events at the 2013 Albuquerque International Ballon Fiesta.
Winds are 4 mph or less at Balloon Fiesta Park. Dawn Patrol and Mass Ascension launches are likely on the final day of the 2013 Albuquerque International Ballon Fiesta.
Today’s Balloon Fiesta events
5:45 a.m.: Dawn Patrol Show, presented by Route 66 Casino Hotel
6:30 a.m.: Krispy Kreme Morning Glow
7:00 a.m.: Farewell Mass Ascension
Images of the 2013 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta