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October Fiesta (Oct 2022)


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It's Fiesta Time

As  I sit and write this there are hundreds of balloonist heading to the 50th “Big One”  We took our first pilgrimage to the Albuquerque eveAlbqParade77.jpgnt as a family back in 1977.  It was a magical time and we were able to meet so many of the people who would become legends in the world of ballooning.  I was a young 17 year old high school student with a poly bucket raven rally.  I was new to the sport and had no idea what the event was going to be like.  My parents loaded 4 kids into a station wagon and drove from Iowa to Albuquerque for the event. I had never experienced “The Box” and was completely mesmerized when I saw the test balloon come back over our heads.  That year there were just over 300 balloons at the event and remember lifting off one morning and thinking that you could almost walk across the tops of the balloons, there were so many.  On one flight I made 5 passes at the same target on the field, using the “Box Winds”   I later received a personal compliment from Don Picard about doing that.  But that is a whole other story…  It became a family event that would be remembered for the rest of our lives.  In fact my Brother Jon and parents Connie and Jim Thompson are at the event right now.  They are now considered some of the really old timers at the Fiesta since there are not many who have CaptKidd.jpgbeen at the even more than 43 years!  If you happen to run into them say howdy or give them a pat on the back for me.  Above all please be super cautious.  It is easy to become distracted with all the excitement and with so many balloons.  Keep your head on a swivel.  Always remember JOB #1 is to fly the balloon!  We want everyone to have a great time but, safety is the first priority.  IN THE AIR AND ON THE GROUND!

Drone Winds

I have been working on the Drone Winds project for several months now and I want you to know we now have a presentation for the FAA that I believe they will approve.  If used you will be able to legally take a drone and fly it up to 2,000 feet and read the winds.  Real data, onsite, in real time.  I have been doing a DroneWinds-09-22-22.pngdrone winds reading most mornings.  I save the report from the drone, and then compare it to wind forecasts from two different locations nearby.  There are many days when the local winds aloft forecasts are conflicting and you would rely very heavily on what the Pibal shows.  The only trouble with reading a pibal is even that is just an estimated guess.  I LOVE the drone winds report and WISH I had this when I was still flying rides.  The data is so precise, even down to as little as every 20 feet!  Try getting that from a Ryan Carlton or Sounding.   Here are a few things I have learned from this process. 

The winds change.  As we all know, there are days when the wind will change as the sun comes up.  The drone winds will not forecast what the winds will do so getting a good idea of what the winds are forecasted to do is still needed.  There have been days when I have done a Drone Winds flight each hour for three hours (1 hr before sunrise, at sunrise, & 1 hr after sunrise) and watched the changes in wind layers.  We all know it happens but it is interesting to see it documented in real time.

The Drone Winds report is right on the money.  If done correctly the report you get from the drone is exactly what the winds are doing right where you are at that time.  There is no guessing how fast that Pibal was moving or exactly what direction it got around to. 

Your Crew can do this.  No the ground crew won’t be able to go up to 2,000 feet for you but they can go up to 400-500 feet at the landing site and give you an idea of what the winds are doing for your approach for landing.

Readings can be made in less than 10 minutes.  From the time you stop the truck to the time you have a drone winds report on your phone is less than 10 minutes.  Now that seems like a long time but next time you go to fly, time the process of getting out a helium balloon, filling it up, launching it and watching it with your compass and taking readings till you cannot see it any longer.  I bet you spend nearly that same time with that process.  Best of all the drone winds are done without using expensive helium or balloons.  We did a very comprehensive cost comparison in our Drone Winds presentation about “PiBal by Drone” available for download in the Tutorial Presentations section of the Download Center.  If you have not downloaded that DW-1.jpgpresentation it is worth your time.

We currently have a Drone Winds Waiver application pending with the FAA using our latest presentation.  We should know by the next newsletter if that has been approved or denied.  If it has been denied with the 157 pages of documentation and 4 videos provided we will expect a detailed explanation as to why.  At this point we do not expect it to be denied.  We wish to thank ALL of you out there who made a donation to our Drone Winds project on the website to help us continue this project.  We could not have done this without YOU.




Follow This

Do you take advantage of the “Follow” feature on the HAB site?  One of the greatest abilities built into the HotAirBalloonist.com site is the Follow feature.  If you find something on the site that interests you the odds are good that you can “Follow it”.  Find a topic you want to know more about, Follow it.  Find a piece of equipment you’re interested in, “Follow it”.  A balloon Event, Topic, Map File, even an entire category like the “Hot Topics” can be followed.  When you “Follow” an item the HAB system will send you an instant email notifying you of any new changes or new postings about the item you are following.  Remember when you visit the site, LOG IN.  If you do not log in you are only seeing a small portion of the site.  There are thousands of files on the site that may be of interest to you!  Speaking of the FOLLOW FEATURE, don’t forget the “Balloonetin Board” There is a category on the HAB site called “The Nylon Telegraph” There are several forums within that category, however one of them, the Balloonetin Board is followed by over 770 members!  This means that if you log in and post a topic in that forum the HAB system will send out emails to over 770 fellow Balloonists.  When you are logged in you can include photos, website links, emails, phone numbers and as much text as you want.  If you have a question or a concern or even a need have a look at the section on the site called “The Nylon Telegraph” and post a question on the Balloonetin Board.


A while back we created new balloon cups for your after flight champagne ceremonies.  The updated cup featured many real life balloons from all over the country.  When I was running my own company here in the Disney World area we had custom cups of our own that we would let the passengers keep after the flight.  They turned out to be one of the souvenirs that the passengers loved the best.  The 10oz plastic cup was the perfect size to use after the flight and because it was plastic there were no worries about broken glass in the chase rig or passengers getting cut.  If you go to Balloons-andBeyond.com you can still order some of the cups if you wish to get some for your after flight traditions.  You will find that there are now other items available at that site as well.  There are more items being added to the site all the time.  If you have balloon related items you would like to see made available to the Balloons-andBeyond list please let us know.  You can email me at Jeff@Balloons-andBeyond.com and tell me what items you would like us to find or build for you!




As many of you know I have retired being a full time Ride Pilot.  I now do whatever I can to help balloonists enjoy the sport safely.  My wish is to help spread knowledge, (not just my own) and share my many years and thousands of flights of experience in hopes that there are a few mistakes I have made that others need not.  Trust me I have made many over the years and some of them more than once, (Just to make sure they were mistakes).  Fortunately, I have never hurt anyone and that should be the ultimate goal of every pilot.  Please use the HotAirballoonist.com site for this purpose.  There is a private (Members only) side of the site for a reason.  Yes we want to promote ballooning to the general public and we want sites where average people can find out more about ballooning and how it works and where they can go take a flight and see a festival or a mass launch.  The front side (Public Side) of HotAirBalloonist.com does that fairly well.  However, we also need a place where we (Balloonists) can share ideas and ask questions and use our combined SupportIcons.jpgexperience and knowledge to help grow the sport and enhance our safety and image.  I am on the site most days. I keep a very close eye on what is posted and who is logged in and on the site.  There is an internal email system as well as a message system built into the site.  You can use this to send messages directly to other members or to me.  There is also an Alert button where you can report content that you find that should not be on the site.  Should you find something that has slipped thru all of the safety protocols just let us know.  We have several moderators who can remove items from the site and as I mentioned I am on the site almost every day too.  If you have ideas about things we can put on the front side of HotAirBalloonist.com for the General Public please “Jump in” If you offer balloon flights make sure you are listed in the Balloon Rides section of the site.  If you are a member on the site you can create your own listing with as much content and photos as you like.  Post something on the “Balloonetin Board” or check out the Equipment 4-Sale section.  Just remember the site was built for YOU!  You are getting this email because you are a member on the site.  LOG IN and see all of the hundreds and hundreds of files and topics on the Member’s Side of the site.


I know that many of you are participating in the 50th ABQ.  I hope you are having the time of your life.  It is a BIG DEAL!  I wish I could be there with so many of you.  I enjoy very much the postings I am seeing on Facebook.  I also realize that many of you may not get to see this newsletter till after you get finished with Balloon Fiesta but if you get the chance to read it please be safe!  I know firsthand how exciting flying with that many balloons can be.  Stay alert and if you are not comfortable with the conditions stay on the ground.  Tell everyone you know as they lift off “BE SAFE” and let that be the mantra for the event.  I want everyone to be able to tell stories about the 50th for years and years to come.  Just remember that it takes everyone to make a safe event and THANK YOU for all you do for the Balloon World.






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Jeff A Thompson.  Admin@HotAirBalloonist.com 407-421-9322

44 year LTA pilot, BFA member since 1977, BFA Level DA-8, Ed Yost Master Pilot. 6500 flights, 5650 Flight Hours

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