At Rio Rancho Balloons Aloft, Balloons Come To Kids

At Rio Rancho Balloons Aloft, Balloons Come To Kids
Posted on 09/28/2016
Balloons Aloft at Stapleton Elementary

For nine days each autumn, thousands of people flock to Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park to see the world’s greatest ballooning event.  But on the tenth day the balloonists return the favor, flocking to schools in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque to share the sport they love with our kids. 

Rio Rancho’s elementary and middle schools and Shining Stars Preschool hosted 26 balloons participating in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’s 16th annual Albuquerque Aloft celebration.  The photos here were taken at Ernest Stapleton Elementary.

Students at Balloons AloftBalloonists at the schools may elect to fly from the campus or may remain inflated at the school site.  Schools are encouraged to invite parents, staff, and students to be on hand for the event, and parent and staff groups at some schools have refreshments for sale. 

Albuquerque Aloft – in Rio Rancho often referred to as “Balloons Aloft” -- is the only Balloon Fiesta event in which balloons launch from pre-designated sites outside Balloon Fiesta Park.  Balloons are assigned to participating elementary schools in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.  The event allows students who may not be able to come to the Balloon Fiesta an opportunity to see and learn about hot-air balloons.

Student learning about balloonsThis year, Rio Rancho residents have also had front-row seats for another Balloon Fiesta event.  The U.S. Women’s National Hot Air Balloon Championships are being held in conjunction with the Balloon Fiesta from October 1-5.  Sixteen elite female pilots are registered to participate in this competition, which has not been held since 1999.  Most of the Women’s Nationals flights are being held in Rio Rancho so that the competitors are not impeded by the hundreds of non-competing balloons flying in Balloon Fiesta events.  The target locations will vary depending on weather and wind conditions and will be determined early in the morning each day.  RRPS is making its school fields available to the Women’s Nationals as target zones and landing sites, which may give students a close-up view of a national championship event.   

Stapleton ES and Eagle Ridge MSIt was a gorgeous day to fly for the balloon teams who brought such joy to hundreds of Rio Rancho schoolchildren (the aerial view showing Stapleton Elementary in the foreground and Eagle Ridge Middle School in the background was taken from Too Grateful, flown by RRPS staff member Kim Vesely):

  • Shining Stars Preschool, 4477 9th Ave. NE:
    • Laurie Chavez, Jesse’s Girl, Albuquerque, NM
    • Jay Schuler, Aquatude/Pencil Boy, Rio Rancho, NM 
  • Cielo Azul Elementary School, 3804 Shiloh Rd. NE
    • Jane Schill, Whispering Spirit, Albuquerque, NM
    • Tom Pilson, Baskit A Nutz, Albuquerque, NM
  • Colinas del Norte Elementary School, 1001 Night Sky Ave NE
    • Rebecca Curling, American Pie, Rio Rancho, NM
    • Bruce Skach, ZROZRO7, Wichita, KS 
  • Enchanted Hills Elementary School, 5400 Obregon NE 
    • Mark Hofheins, The Viking Dragon, Rio Rancho, NM
    • Jessica Makin/ William Fitzpatrick/Janet Soffera, MyAir FlyAir!,  Rio Rancho, NM/Ranchos de Taos, NM
    • Fred Peek, O’Lough, Albuquerque, NM
  • Ernest Stapleton Elementary School, 3100 Stapleton Ave. NE
    • Michael Carpenter, Sweet Caroline, Albuquerque, NM
    • Angela Murphy, Outlander, Victorville, CA
    • Scott Vesely/Kim Vesely, Too Grateful, McKinney, TX & Rio Rancho, NM 
  • Maggie M. Cordova Elementary School, 1500 Veranda Rd. SE 
    • Barbara Fricke/Peter Cuneo, Sandia Sunrise II, Albuquerque, NM
    • Ted Maes/Michael Gorenflo, T.M. Fluf-N-Stuf, Albuquerque, NM
    • Brad Rice/Dick Rice, Hearts A’Fire, Albuquerque, NM 
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., Elementary School, 1301 Nicklaus Dr. SE
    • Pat Chando/Morghan Chando, Mojo/Patturns Highperactive¸ Albuquerque, NM
    • Eric Hodges, ZK, Rio Rancho, NM 
  • Puesta del Sol Elementary School, 450 Southern Blvd. SE 
    • Sharon Hartshorn, Seeking Nirvana, Corrales, NM
    • Trudy DeGraff, Cutie Dink, Albuquerque, NM 
  • Rio Rancho Elementary School, 4601 Pepe Ortiz Rd., SE
    • Rod Baca, Cruise Control, Los Lunas, NM
    • Ryan Davie, Twilight Zone, Rio Rancho, NM 
  • Sandia Vista Elementary School, 6800 Franklin Rd. NE
    • Fred Lété, Huckleberry, Rio Rancho,NM
    • Mike Gonzales, The Journey, Rio Rancho, NM 
  • Vista Grande Elementary School, 7100 Chayote Rd. NE
    • Stacy Eldridge, Redneck Cowboy, Rio Rancho, NM
    • Keith Lutz, High Maintenance, Corrales, NM
  • Eagle Ridge Middle School, 800 Fruta Rd. NE
    • Joel Harris/Rachel Zimmer, Freedom Flyer, Albuquerque, NM/Rio Rancho, NM
    • Rick Rood, Raven, Rio Rancho, NM
  • Lincoln Middle School, 2287 Lema Rd. SE
    • Jim Abell, Kiphaven, Santa Rosa, CA
    • Mike Hance, Mike’s 2 Irresistible, McKinney, TX 
  • Mountain View Middle School, 4101 Montreal Loop NE
    • Matt Hurst, Captain A, Albuquerque, NM
    • Michael Korfe, Buzzin’ Round/Bumpy, Albuquerque, NM
  • Rio Rancho Middle School, 1600 Loma Colorado Blvd. NE
    • Chuck Polonowski, Double Yellow, Rockford, MI
    • Sean Rice/Dave Yellott, Air Rocky Top, Sterlington, NY/Albuquerque, NM