I lived in New Mexico, although 120 miles outside of Albuquerque so it was not so easy to drop into the big city very often. I moved from the state in the fall of 1981.
Does anyone know when the festival began? I can't remember if it was an event in the four years I lived in the state.
Balloon and chase crews do not lease "official" radios, We have no use for AIBF radios. We purchase our own aircraft and personal crew radios or radios are provided by our corporate sponsors as part of the corporate balloon contract package. Only a portion of pilots/crews use the FRS/GMRS/MURS/business band itinerate or AIBF's furnished frequencies. Most of us are now licensed for other "quiet" frequencies, such as Amateur Radio: 2m, 1.25m, & 70cm (and/or just use cell phones), so that we don't have to "fight" to be heard on over-crowded frequencies.
The AIBF WX frequency (119.475) has been used for the past several years. This is NOAA forecast weather info compiled with current launch field conditions and winds aloft information added (AIBF compiles data from one or more locally installed weather stations and launches several white balloons before dawn, carrying a green glowstick to optically/computer track, to determine wind speed and wind direction at various altitudes above the field).
One frequency that is not commonly known is the Dawn Patrol frequency which this year is aircraft 123.5MHz. We are using this frequency for our program ground setup checks, cold inflation, hot inflation, launch, and flight operations and any "situations" during flights. Our chatter is pretty boring pilot chatter, but there for the monitoring between 5:15am and 7:00am before the mass asscension balloons start laying out and inflating.
The mass asscension pilot briefing is held at each morning at 6:00am at the base of the Briefing Tower (far west side of the field, west of launch squares N11 and P11, just south of Key Grab Road and west of West Wind Road on the launch field. Balloon Glow pilot meetings are held at 5:30pm during days featuring balloon glows. If you want the inside scoop for these activities, wander over during the briefings and hang out to the rear of the pilots (hey, you might even be able to photo-bomb the 2023 pilot group photo!).
We hold our Dawn Patrol pilot briefings at a different place on the field. It is a small group and we are in a "huddle" formation so we can clearly hear our briefings. Sorry, spectator and other pilot/crew participation is not encouraged as we don't have the luxury of an amplified sound system to over-power the excited spectators and arriving chase vehicle noises on the field.
Now for some trivia: What was the nickname of the balloonists who flew Dawn Patrol, before Dawn Patrol was officially organized?
Answer: Aw, come-on, take a guess before you look at the answer below!...
The tradition of Dawn Patorl began on the old dirt launch field (now known as the large AIBF RV parking area south of the present launch field immediately south of Alameda Blvd NE/Hwy 528) back in the eary 1990s. We were a rag-tag informal group of AIBF registered pilots known as "The Renegades".