The Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the historic flight that commemorates the first Atlantic crossing in a helium-filled balloon and Albuquerque’s unique place in its achievement. In August of 1978, Albuquerque residents Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman piloted the impressive Double Eagle II across the Atlantic Ocean, becoming the first to succeed in this fete, one of the longest standing goals in aviation.
The Albuquerque pilots flew for 137 hours and 6 minutes in the 112-foot high balloon. The Double Eagle II was 65 feet in diameter and had a capacity of 160,000 cubic feet of helium gas. The team rode in a gondola named “The Spirit of Albuquerque.” It measured 15 feet by 7 feet by 4.5 feet and was fashioned after a catamaran that would float in case of an emergency water landing.
Guests of the (http://www.cabq.gov/balloon) can enjoy the full-sized walk-in replica of the Double Eagle II, which is now on permanent display at the museum. Visitors can experience the close quarters of the gondola, see an ice chest with replicas of the foods the crew took along, and sit in vintage lawn chairs like those onboard the flight. Visitors can also look forward to special commemorative displays and a special series of activities honoring our heroes of flight. These and other celebrations of the historic flight are planned during this year’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta®.
The 37th Annual International Balloon Fiesta (http://www.balloonfiesta.com) will be held October 4-12, 2008 featuring more than 600 hot air balloons. This year’s Fiesta is a can’t miss with the return of many exciting events, including the exhilarating Annual Coupe Aèronautique Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race beginning Saturday, October 4, 2008. The Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race dates back more than 100 years and attracts some of the most experienced and distinguished pilot teams from around the world. This year will mark the fourth return of the event to Albuquerque, bringing with it 12 talented teams from six different countries including Germany, Great Britain, Austria, Switzerland, France and the United States. See http://www.itsatrip.org/balloonfiesta for more information.