15th Annual San Juan Balloon Rally Hampered by Weather


For the third year in a row, flight was cancelled for the San Juan River Balloon Rally in Bloomfield. Wind shears grounded balloons this year. Covid was culprit for the previous two cancellations. Organizers disappointed as a deflated balloon? Maybe. Donna K. Hewett. This story is sponsored by Ace Hardware of Farmington and Pop's Truck and RV Center

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Usually, third time's a charm, but for the third year in a row, flight was canceled for the San Juan River Balloon Rally in Bloomfield. Weather knocked the wind out of what would've been the 15th annual balloon rally. COVID terminated the previous two. Was everyone as disappointed as, well, a deflated balloon? Maybe a little bit. Mostly, participants seemed ready enough to find compensation in the failure to launch. You're watching the Local News Network, brought to you by Ace Hardware of Farmington and Pop's Truck and RV Center. I'm Hayley Opsal. With no mass ascension again this year, balloons stood bulging and beautiful on the Bloomfield soccer field so that people could stroll around and enjoy them up close.

We're doing right now what we call a static display. So we're standing on the ground static. Basically, the balloon isn't hot enough to take off right now. Right now, the balloon is at 137 degrees. That's that right there. It's 77 degrees where we're standing. Up at the top of the balloon, there's a sensor that links onto this little box here and tells us that it's 137 degrees up there. If we were going to take off with just you and me and Gavin, then it would probably need to be about 185 degrees up there to actually lift us.

21 hot air balloons from each state in the Four Corners should have ascended the sky following the San Juan River from 100 feet above as far as SunRay Park. Hodge, however, remains steadfast to his own particular regulations.

And we have three rules for flying. The first one is safety, our second rule is safety first, and our third rule is safety second. So that's the way we do things and that's the way we always do things. So no matter where we were, if we were in these conditions, we wouldn't be flying, even if it was just for fun.

The FAA, on this particular morning, issued what's called an AIRMET advisory. Winds on the ground seemed calm, but 20 to 50 feet up, wind sheers were as strong as 30 miles per hour and they continued throughout the weekend.

Weather permitting. Everything's always weather permitting. We make the best guess that we can. We make all the preparations we can. And then of course, Mother Nature does what she's going to do. These pilots have given up weekends worth of their commercial flying where they could be earning money because they have a community spirit and they want to be involved in the community. And we hook them up with various businesses in town, and some of these businesses have been sponsoring the same pilot for three generations. So this is just a community balloon event and it's free to the public.

In fact, an AIRMET advisory like the one issued for the rally is rather unusual in the Southwest.

Generally speaking, that's why New Mexico is so popular for ballooning, is that, in most places of the world, anywhere else outside of the Southwest, you might be able to fly maybe 120 to 150 days out of the entire year. In Albuquerque, we can fly anywhere up to maybe 280 days out of the year. So about one of every six days is going to be adverse weather that doesn't allow us to fly. But yeah, that's why New Mexico is the capital of hot air ballooning. It's because the weather is stellar most of the time.

We'll knock on a wicker wooden basket for next year. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Hayley Opsal.


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