As a former Balloon Meister, Balloon Fiesta pilot, and veteran board of director, Harry Season shares a few of his favorite memories behind-the-scenes at Balloon Fiesta. From the challenges of September 11 to the challenges of a new pilot in Albuquerque, Season shares his thoughts.
What was the name of your balloon that you’ve flown during past Balloon Fiestas?
“Morning Delight. I only had it for several years, in 1981 to 1984.”
What is your favorite memory from a past Balloon Fiesta?
“One of my favorite memories was flying in the Balloon Fiesta in the early 1980s. It was a thrill and challenge. I was relatively new pilot, and I was absolutely thrilled to fly in such an event.
The other two relate to when I was President of the Board of Directors. In 2000, Balloon Fiesta decided, in their infinite wisdom, to accommodate 1,000 pilots, which was quite a challenge for us. For us to be able to accommodate all of them, and to manage it all on Balloon Fiesta Park was a huge success.”
To Season, the third memory is more emotional. Three weeks after the tragedy of 9/11, Balloon Fiesta was in jeopardy as general aviation was shut down. Many questioned the event’s launch.
“We had many foreign pilots on their way, and we didn’t even know if we were able to conduct the event. “
Season said he had to work with the Board of Directors, Balloon Fiesta staff, the New Mexico Congressional delegation, and FAA command center to get issues resolved and to make it happen. It was one of Season’s greatest accomplishments.
“Even on opening day, guests felt like Balloon Fiesta was a reconciliation, bring us back together again after the event. It was very emotional for me, and one of the highlights.”
If you were to recruit pilots who have never participated in Balloon Fiesta, what advice would you offer to them?
Season says to ask questions. The ultimate objective for any Balloon Fiesta pilot, as Season says, is conducting the safest flight possible.
“Strictly talking about pilots and flight operations, flying in Albuquerque is a challenge. It’s very different for pilots who have come here, specifically in regards to the altitude. California pilots may be flying at sea level, but with us, we’re a mile above. It presents some challenges, not insurmountable challenges.”