When I was a young Private going to school at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, TX, I had an opportunity to be on a hot-air balloon team. Our job was to help get the balloon set up for the pilot. Once airborne, we drove all over the place following it until it came to the landing site. It was a lot of fun, though not something I’m necessarily interested in doing myself up there.
While it looks like this is a winter photo, this was taken at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico by Airman 1st Class Michael Shoemaker. Those vehicles under the balloon are probably the spotters for that balloon or others in the sky. What makes spotting so fun is that you never know how to chase the balloon. Maps are crucial and I’m not talking about GPS types either. You need to be able to look at a physical map and find the right road to stay in contact with the balloon. It’s easy to end up on a dead end or a poorly maintained road and having to backtrack onto a better route.
A hot-air balloon is piloted above the White Sands National Monument, N.M., during the 21st annual White Sands Balloon Invitational Sept. 16. Balloonists came from Colorado, Arizona, Kansas, California, Texas and New Mexico for the two-day event, at which more than 50 balloons launched from both the balloon park in Alamogordo, N.M., and the White Sands National Monument. The event committee obtained a permit for balloons to fly over the monument, as normally private aircraft are not allowed in the airspace. Members of Team Holloman volunteered at the event.