Watch this space and the Journal’s Balloon Fiesta app for updates and changes Wednesday morning.
8:11am: Balloon Competitions Start
With most of this morning’s mass ascension off the ground, Balloon Fiesta competition is getting under way off the field.
In addition to daily cash prizes, balloonists can accumulate competition points that count toward an overall ranking for this year’s fiesta events and earn additional prizes.
Last year, the Balloon Fiesta handed out more than 20 daily prizes in amounts ranging from $150 to $400; pilots assembling the best poker hand in Balloon Fiesta Hold’em shared $5,000; and Police Grab winners won from $500 to $1,000, according to the Journal’s Balloon Fiesta 2012 guide.
7:40am: ABQ … We Have Liftoff!
Hot-air balloons by the dozens are lifting off, and most appear to be moving briskly to the northwest, according to our spotters on the field.
Balloonists are expected to be aloft for several hours this morning, thanks to favorable weather conditions.
6:53am: 7:30 Mass Ascension Expected
It looks like balloonists are going to be lifting off en masse at 7:30 a.m., and favorable weather conditions could mean several hours of flying over Albuquerque this morning, a pilot is telling KOAT-TV’s Eric Green.
6:23am: Dawn Patrol Lifting Off
Dawn Patrol is getting off the ground as we speak.
All took off, drifting north at a very slow rate, according to the Journal’s Greg Peretti. There’s almost no wind.
6:12am: Dawn Patrol Aims at 6:30 Liftoff
Balloons are cold-inflating on the north end of the field at Balloon Fiesta Park, and the Dawn Patrol is expected to fly at 6:30 a.m., according to KOAT-TV’s man on the scene, meteorologist Eric Green.
Weather conditions are almost perfect for this morning’s mass ascension, and there are more balloonists on the field than there were on Monday when the weather was much iffier, Green said.
5:20am — Conditions Good for Today’s Launch
It’s a bit warmer and the winds are practically nonexistent at Balloon Fiesta Park at this hour — 47.5 degrees and winds at zero (compared to 40 and 5 mph at 5:30 a.m. Monday), according to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta website.
Traffic is flowing smoothly so far, with a little more activity on the Tramway side than at Alameda, according to 770 KKOB Radio traffic reporter Joe Gonzales.
KOAT-TV’s weather guy Eric Green says the crowds gathering at the launch site this morning appear a little smaller than Monday’s, but balloonists and their crews seem to be a little more active and anxious to get flying this morning.