[76/100 Strangers]: Kelly

100 Strangers |  76:  Kelly @ 6:56:54, AIBF 2015

[76/100 Strangers]: Kelly

During Morning Ascension at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, it’s common to see delicate balloons remaining on the ground instead of being launched. It can be due to strong winds or air gusts, as well as equipment failures.

While walking through the crowd to see different special shaped balloons, I came across this young woman who was part of a crew for the special shaped balloon, Owlbert Eyenstein. It had been grounded, unfortunately, due to equipment failures.

Kelly is my 76/100 strangers. Our encounter was brief as she was actively working on the tasks of balloon management. She was standing in place holding up part of the hot air balloon envelope to help hot air escape. Kelly told me that the balloon broke one of its poles. After showing off the shape in a ground display, the balloon was being slowly deflated for packing up. Kelly is enrolled in nursing school. She is 22 years-old and supports herself by working two jobs, one at Saggio’s (an upbeat pizzaria near UNM) and Copper Pointe Church.

The sun had only been above the mountain ridge of the Sandias for a few minutes. I enjoyed how tips of dawnlight above the Sandia mountains illuminated her face; and her gesture of one arm raised while holding up the balloon. Kelly was more than happy to be photographed. I will add that that not everyone on a balloon crew can still be found with smiles after rising so early and dealing with the disappointment of a no-go at launch time.

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