Before looking at today’s post, switch your smart phone out of ultra-power-saver mode. View this in full color fidelity to enjoy it best. The exceedingly large Hummingbird is a hot-air balloon showcased at the 2016 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Hummingbird is registered to a resident of Albuquerque. I made this photograph on a day set aside as a Special Shape Rodeo. When given the choice, my children always prefer to attend Fiesta for the roundup of uniquely shaped hot-air balloons. Special Shape Rodeo sessions celebrate whimsically designed characters, creatures and themes.
Assuming you stumbled into this post and have never seen a novelty shaped hot-air balloon, like Hummingbird, there is a long list of equipment and personnel needed to get one into the air. Lighthearted as are the special shapes, they are a hobby requiring a serious investment.
In addition to the envelope (the balloon shape) one would need a skilled and licensed pilot, an attentive well-trained crew, a passenger basket, fuel burners, fuel tanks, fuel (propane), inflator fans, flying instruments (navigational devices), all sorts of launch ropes and releases, a tarp and bag for the balloon storage, a specialty trailer to haul around all this equipment, plus a heavy-duty vehicle, like a pickup truck, to drive it all around…not to mention a compounding endowment at Gringotts Wizarding Bank. I know: that’s a major buzz kill.
Given the costly investments of resources, it’s no surprise that owners of special shapes are particular and careful about the acceptable launching conditions for their hot-air balloons. Sometimes special shapes are inflated only to remain grounded.
Festival-goers appreciate viewing the shapes whether the balloons are aloft or anchored. I am grateful for the creative minds who conjure these shapes, the technical skills of those who produce these technical flying novelties, and most of all, the generous spirits who share these balloons for our visual enjoyment.
Most special shaped balloons that have appeared at Fiesta have been manufactured by the following companies: Lindstrand, Ultramagic, Adams Balloons, Cameron Balloons, Kubicek Balloons, Firefly Balloons, Apex Balloons. For competitive folks, there are special shaped hot air balloons designed for speed, like with yachts and race cars. A company that designs and produces that sort of hot-air balloon is Kavanagh Balloons. You can bet all of the people involved with these businesses are passionate about hot- air ballooning!!
I’m sorry that I don’t know the name of the company that created Hummingbird. In the comments below, readers are invited to add names of other active hot air balloon manufacturers. Of course, as always, I welcome comments on my personal photograph shared here.