For the last two years, photographer Knate Myers has moved between vantage points to take thousands of photos at the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The annual event, held in early October, started in 1972 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of 770 KOB Radio. Station Manager Dick McKee asked Sid Cutter, the first and only person to own a balloon in Albuquerque at that time, what the largest gathering in balloons in the world had been. To Cutter’s knowledge, 19 balloons in England had been the most. The pair was committed to breaking the record, and enlisted 21 pilots. Poor weather kept some from arriving in time, so the first Balloon Fiesta launched with a respectable 13 balloons.
Little did the team know that they had started what would become the largest balloon convention in the world. The total number of balloons peaked at 1,019 in 2000, but event organizers now limit the number of participating ballons to 600 for safety concerns. The nine-day festival can bring up to 100,000 people daily to the launch field during ‘dawn patrol’ and the early morning launch.
Myers, who calls Albuquerque home, spent countless hours capturing the majestic scenes from locations all throughout the city, even getting himself up into a balloon. While time-lapse films are everywhere these days, there is something very unique and surreal about seeing the massive balloons bob and float through the air over the Chihuahuan Desert ecoregion.
Below are some of our favorite screenshots from the film.