Inside the Basket - Michelle Healy, Balloon Fiesta Chief Launch Director
As a Balloon Fiesta Launch Director, Michelle Healy helps balloons safely take flight.
In this month’s Inside the Basket, Michelle shares more about how pilots are cleared for takeoff and how she became involved with Balloon Fiesta 26 years ago.
1. Give a brief overview of your Balloon Fiesta role.
I am a Launch Director. As Launch Directors, I think we have the best job. As Launch Directors, our role is to help the pilots and crew have a safe, coordinated launch. We definitely have fun and look forward to seeing the pilots, crews and spectators.
2. How did you become involved with Balloon Fiesta?
I became involved with Balloon Fiesta when the pilot I crewed with was going to be the Assistant Balloonmeister. That year, we had the option to volunteer for Balloon Fiesta and I thought being a Launch Director would be fun. Every year I am just as excited and nervous for the first day of Balloon Fiesta as I was 26 years ago.
3. What is your favorite part about being involved as a Launch Director?
I have so many favorite things about being a Launch Director. The friends I get to see and the beautiful balloons in the Albuquerque sky. I think on the top of my list is seeing the excitement of those who come to Balloon Fiesta for the first time. The excitement they have is contagious.
4. What are some things you consider before giving the thumbs up for a balloon to launch?
We make sure that the spectators are cleared from the paths of the balloons taking off. It is easy for them to get distracted taking pictures and watching all that is going on. Then we talk to the pilots, to see if they are ready to fly. Once the pilots give us the okay to launch them, we look around to see traffic overhead and to the sides of us before we launch. After we have determined it is clear we give them thumbs up.
5. What advice do you have for Balloon Fiesta guests visiting for the first time?
If you are visiting for the first time, schedule enough time to attend several events. The morning and evening events offer a different experience and each one will allow for amazing photos.
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