This is the Dawn Patrol at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. On mass ascension days, these are the first balloons up. They put on a light show (above) and are the only balloons that are allowed to ascend, to the cheers of the crowd, in the dark before sunrise. There is also a practical element to this spectacle in that these pilots assess the winds aloft before the hundreds of balloons follow at daybreak. They’re always a signal that it’s going to be a great day at the Fiesta!
All Photographs © 2019 Sharon Lobel Photography or John Grusd Photography. All Rights Reserved.