Submitted by By Scott Kominiak, Corrales resident and balloonist
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On behalf of the Albuquerque area ballooning community, I want to say thanks for the good press. Unfortunately, on a national level, we only seem to make the news when unfortunate incidents occur.
However, it seemed to me that your article evolved into an “infomercial.” As a private pilot residing in Corrales, I feel compelled to respond to add a little bit of perspective to the discussion.
Lately, our community has been dealing with many challenges; some are of our own making. While the spectacle of hot-air ballooning is embraced as a “trademark” of the area, we also have folks whose lifestyles, hobbies, or businesses that don’t mesh well with what we do. Some pets and livestock don’t appreciate balloons as much as we do. In fact, some people don’t either. This is especially true when residents are encountered by disrespectful crew members or pilots. We are also facing the inevitable challenge of shrinking availability of launch and landing sites due to economic growth. WE need to adapt to that, YOU do not.
Rainbow Ryders, the company featured in your article, is to be sure the most successful and largest commercial ride operator in the country, if not the world. Their contribution to publicizing the hot air ballooning experience has been tremendous. However, somehow the company has been adopted as the de facto spokesperson for the entire ballooning community, when in fact they have a distinct business agenda which is not always consistent with that of the private flying community.
I happen to think it is very cool when low flying balloons pass over my property, and I personally love to fly nearer to the ground. However, I recognize that not everyone feels this way. To imply that just because professional pilots are in charge is a reason not to worry that something might go wrong is not responsible.
There’s a reason the FAA has rules for ALL of us to follow. They include the fact that unless we are taking off or landing very near your home (this does not include splashing in the river), we are to remain 1000 feet above you. The rules have evolved for decades, for safety reasons, and they apply to ALL pilots and crew.
I want to make sure that residents know they have options other than to call commercial ride operators. If you are concerned with the actions of a pilot or their crew (or if you want to go on record that we are welcome) you may contact:
Albuquerque Aerostat Aviation Association (“AAAA”):
Jason Burns firstname.lastname@example.org
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta:
Balloon Fiesta Public Safety 505-821-7300. Landowner Relations 505-948-0640
E-Mail contact: Landownerrelations@balloonfiesta.com
Of course, if you have a serious or repetitive problem you can contact the FAA.
These people can help you convey ”the rules” regarding your property to local and visiting pilots. Believe me, we all want to respect your wishes and enjoy ballooning together!
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