Zebras at Fiesta ensure balloon pilots take off safely

Erica Zucco
October 07, 2017 06:51 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- At its peak, all 78 acres at Balloon Fiesta Park are filled with hundreds of colorful balloons and visitors, the smell of propane and those all-important zebras roaming the field.


Twenty-five years ago, Bill Brennan first became a launch director. Now he's the chief. He and many other volunteers put in hours of work at the Balloon Fiesta, not for money but just because they love this event so much.

"I love the smell, the feel, the mornings, the coolness, the crispness of the morning," he said. "When you hear the inflator fan kick in and then those gentle giants start taking shape, then you just start getting goosebumps."

The zebras work all year long to get ready for Fiesta. They go through hours and hours of training and ultimately decide when and where the balloons go.

"What it boils down to is that our launch directors are facilitators for our pilots to get into the air safely," Brennan said. "They'll talk with the pilot, talk about overhead traffic, talk about if there are balloons coming from the other part of the field, look at which way the winds are going, who the nearest neighbor is. Just explaining what's going to happen."


Erica Zucco

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