Very much like the wild animals from Africa, Balloon Fiesta Zebras also have stripes that come in different patterns unique to each individual. They wear their stripes proudly as the official launch directors at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Balloon Fiesta Launch Directors (ZEBRAS) take their jobs very seriously. These dedicated volunteers have had hours of training before going on the field to coordinate a balloon launch. They handle crowd control, observe pilots , and work with them to get their balloons safely off the ground every morning during Balloon Fiesta.
Every Zebra checks to see that every balloon is airworthy and that there is no damage to the either the envelope or the basket. They then let the pilots know where they will be standing and what hand signals to look for during the launch sequence. They also discuss wind conditions and the traffic directly overhead. The Zebras then walks each pilot out to a clear area near the launch site. When the skyway is clear, the Zebra blows his whistle and gives a “thumbs up” signal letting the pilot know he is clear to take off.
Spectators on the field during a Mass Ascension enjoy watching the orchestrated action of the Zebras, orchestrating a safe and magical launch of hundreds of balloons amongst thousands of people who are enchanted with the wonder and joy of hot air ballooning.