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Since we weren’t in Albuquerque during the annual International Balloon Fiesta, we had to console ourselves with visiting the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that … along with Fiesta ... the Balloon Museum solidifies Albuquerque’s reputation as the "World Capital of Ballooning."


International Balloon Museum — Up, Up and Away


Before visiting Albuquerque, we knew absolutely nothing about ballooning. That all changed when we toured the Balloon Museum. Not only was our knowledge expanded, but we now have an understanding of the passion ballooning evokes in so many folks. The Museum is world class. The exhibits, many with original artifacts, present not only the history of ballooning, but their use during wartime and for scientific study. In addition, there are many artistic objects related to the culture and spectacle of hot air and gas ballooning.


(Note: You can click on some of the photos on this page for a larger view.)



Before we even got inside the museum, we became fascinated by the tiles featuring many of the balloons and pilots that support the museum. As we stood there admiring the tiles, Trudie, the pilot of the Cutie Dink, came by to survey her chipped tile … she was convinced that it had been vandalized by kids.



Entering the lobby, one is greeted with big, bold and colorful exhibits. Click here to see what we dubbed the Carmen Miranda balloon (officially known as Chic-i-boom).



The timeline for ballooning starts with the French.  In Paris on Aug. 27, 1873 the first recorded flight of a hydrogen balloon was made by Jacques Charles along with Noel Robert. They flew 22 miles before landing. Charles then took off again by himself and flew an additional 35 minutes for the first solo flight.



The Montgolfier Brothers put a sheep, rooster, and a duck aboard a balloon to determine the effect of altitude on living creatures. The flight, which lasted eight minutes, took place in front of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and the French court, as well as a crowd of about 130,000.




After these historic balloon flights there was a demand for all sorts of keepsakes. On display is an assortment of plates, patches, fans, tokens, jewelry, and miniature paintings.



Gaspar Felix Tournachon ... known as "Nadar" ... a renowned 19th Century photographer (among many other things), is credited with taking the first aerial photograph ... from a balloon of course.



Nadar built an enormous balloon to facilitate the taking of aerial photos … 3 times larger than the standard balloon, it had a two story gondola that carried 49 men and contained a photographic dark room. It was such a sensation, that it was put on display in the Crystal Garden in London in 1863.



Danny couldn’t resist having his picture taken in a recreation of Nadar's studio backdrop.



This is a nice example of an aerial camera circa 1910. These cameras were usually mounted to the floor of the gondola to take pictures of the landscape bellow.



The public interest in ballooning produced all types of public spectacles including daredevils like this poster illustrates.




Long distance balloon racing was brought to America by Harold Gordon Bennett in 1906. The Gordon Bennett International Balloon Race continues today and is the longest standing aviation event in the world

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