Monday, October 13, 2008

Commercial Pressure

Is this the reason that Albert Turkey keeps having fatals??

I know I wrote in several places last year that it must be the most dangerous festival on earth.

This year it has done nothing to dispel the myth.

But I just came across this.

Oct 12, 2008 (Albuquerque Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX)

Maryann Myers flew in from Michigan just to see the fabled balloons she had heard so much about. But all she got to see Saturday morning were flames shooting from a propane tank and some people flying kites.
"We're very disappointed," she said.

Saturday's mass ascension was canceled due to wind, leaving a restless weekend crowd milling around the park seeking a diversion -- there's not much to see at a balloon festival sans balloons.

But organizers and pilots made every effort to appease the masses. Before the sun rose, several propane tanks belched fire into the darkness, surrounded by appreciative crowds.

Myers was standing near one such tank with her daughter-in-law and granddaughter Saturday morning, deciding what to do with the rest of their day. They planned to take in some of the booths at fiesta, visit the balloon museum and were hopeful that some balloons might inflate but stay grounded.

"We'll try and salvage the day," said Myers' daughterin-law Camely Myers, of Albuquerque. She said she has other activities planned for the weekend visit, but nothing that rivals the mass ascension.

"This was supposed to be the highlight," she said.

As the sky grew lighter and the crowd thinned, an enormous sheet of balloon material became a playground for the remaining children. Held near the ground by organizers at each corner, the sheet flapped in the wind as kids ducked underneath and played beneath its folds.

Colby Boudet, 4, was having fun playing under the sheet, but he still hadn't seen what he came for. Boudet's family flew in from Illinois on Friday for a trip they've been planning for nearly a year.

"We haven't seen a balloon yet," said Colby's father, Robert Boudet. But despite the disappointment, he said his son was finding ways to have fun anyway.

"He's having a good time collecting the trading cards," he said. "He loves balloons; that's his No. 1 thing."

Although several teams tried to inflate their balloons on the ground, their efforts were stymied by the winds. The Wells Fargo stagecoach made perhaps the most valiant effort but had to be deflated before it fully took shape.

The morning's only silver lining was that the same wind that canceled the ascension provided excellent kite-flying weather.

Colbie Boyd, 3, was flying a kite with her grandmother Saturday and seemed unconcerned about the cancelation. Her parents are pilots who live in Albuquerque, so there is no shortage of balloons in her world.

"Last Saturday was beautiful," said her grandmother, Jan Alford. Just then, though, Boyd let go of her fish-shaped kite, and Alford had to go running after it.

A farewell mass ascension is scheduled for 7 a.m. today, weather permitting. Inside

The balloon pilot injured in Friday's crash that killed another man remained in critical condition Saturday.

Now if that is not pouring the pressure on I'm not sure what is.

Is the Albert Turkey festival for balloonists or the public watching??? If it has turned into an event to please the masses then something is out of balance.

It amazes me that a local newspaper was not more sympathetic to high winds and their associated problems after last Fridays accident.

Looks like at Albert Turkey its less than a 1/1000 chance of death or serious injury when the flying field is opened.

Just being the biggest does not make an event the best.

But then thats America for ya all.

On a much brighter note, the 2010 Gordon Bennett coming to the UK, thats fantastic well done Jon and David.

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