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Mon, Sep 19, 2016

AeroSports Update: Balloon Fiesta Flights Northbound Are Okay

Pueblo of Sandia & Balloon Fiesta Reach A Mutual Understanding Before The 45th Event

If there was a starting place for recreational aviation, it had to be the first manned ascension of a hot air balloon in 1783. Since that time, balloon flight has always been with us, and the most exciting example of this is the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Last week it was reported that the Pueblo of Sandia did not want balloons landing on their lands, which encompasses about 20,000 acres north of the Balloon Fiesta launch site. This razed a major concern because it would ground the balloons if the winds were out of the South.

Now, the balloon fiesta has released notice that officials of the Pueblo of Sandia and the Balloon Fiesta have reached a mutual understanding that opens parts of the Pueblo for “final and necessary landings” during the October 1-9, 2016 event. The mutual understanding reinforces a goal of both organizations to provide for the safety of balloonists, the public and property.

“The conversations provided us a chance to increase understanding about our unique Pueblo culture and concerns for the land and animals,” said Lt. Governor Stuart Paisano. “Some people drive by our land and see nothing but opportunity for economic development. We see the sacred nature of the land, and as its stewards, it is our responsibility to preserve and protect the land.”

“We appreciate the opportunity to talk with the Sandia Pueblo leadership and learning more about their culture and importance of the land” said Jay Czar, president of Balloon Fiesta’s volunteer board of directors. “Balloon Fiesta wouldn’t be what it is today without sponsors and neighbors like Sandia Pueblo.”

Sensitive Zones and Prohibited Zones are not new to Balloon Fiesta Pilots. “Balloonists understand whenever we fly that we will be landing on someone’s property and if we don’t follow their rules, permission to land can be rescinded” said Paul Smith, Balloon Fiesta’s Executive Director and balloon pilot.

The mutual understanding will allow final and necessary landings and protocols requiring pilots and chase crew to notify the Pueblo in order to retrieve a landed balloon. After a chase crew vehicle is allowed access, only the actual chase vehicle will be allowed. Intermediate landings, also known as “hops” will not be allowed. Balloon pilots wishing to fly over the Pueblo will need to maintain a minimum height of 200 feet above ground level.

The Pueblo of Sandia is a longtime partner and supporter of the Balloon Fiesta. In 2016, Sandia Resort and Casino is the Main Street Stage sponsor.

Image from file

FMI: http://balloonfiesta.com/

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