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ABQ loses balloon world record

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — French event launches 408 hot-air balloons in 1 hour to beat 2011 total

News that a French ballooning event this week broke a 2-year-old world record held by New Mexico by sending 408 piloted balloons aloft within an hour aroused little competitive zeal Friday from Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta officials.

The previous record was set here in 2011 when 345 hot-air balloons ascended in less than one hour on the opening day of the 40th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

“It wasn’t like we did anything special when we established the record before,” said Paul Smith, executive director of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. A typical mass ascension here launches 500 or more hot-air balloons in 1 hour and 45 minutes or less, depending on weather conditions, Smith said.

On Thursday, 408 balloons took off from a former NATO airfield in eastern France during the annual Lorraine Mondial hot-air balloon festival, established in 1989.

“Mondial is an excellent group and they put on an excellent event from everything I’ve heard,” Smith said.

Albuquerque organizers have no plans to attempt a new record when the 42nd annual balloon fiesta is held here Oct. 5-13. Smith said he has received media inquiries and a couple of emails from balloonists about the French record, but has heard no demands that Albuquerque attempt to reclaim the record.

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