TODAY   |  October 13, 2013

Up, up and away at the world’s largest hot air balloon festival

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a world-renowned event that brings people from all over, including one very special family with three generations of ballooning pilots. TODAY’s Erica Hill reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> over the course of the fiesta near think three-quarters of a million people turn out to watch more than 500 balloons come to life, many of them with a style and a shape all their own.

>> somehow the balloon provides a release. i enjoy the freedom of it.

>> ray bare flew his first balloon nearly 40 years ago, starting a family tradition that includes now three generations of pilots. the youngest, his granddaughter erin was 17.

>> which came first, driver's license or pilot's license?

>> pilot's license.

>> are you more comfortable piloting a car or a balloon ?

>> a balloon .

>> in these circles, the bare name carries a lot of weight.

>> it's a marginal amount of pressure. i know if i do anything wrong, it's not only on my head, but my father and grandfather. but also i found that people assume that since i was trained by my father and grandfather, i just must be an amazing pilot.

>> not only do we enjoy the family legacy of ballooning, but i think for young people especially, it teaches skills that you cannot learn in other places.

>> reporter: the balloon or envelope is made of lightweight rip-stop nylon, more commercial balloons are 70 feet tall and weigh 250 pounds. the baskets or gondolas come in at 400 pounds. specialty shapes can be much larger.

>> how tall is this balloon itself?

>> lengthwise i think it's 120 feet. widthwise probably 70 feet.

>> reporter: no matter the size, though, they all get off the ground the same way.

>> how does this work?

>> it's really simple. the warmer the balloon is, the more weight it can lift. when you heat the balloon to a certain temperature, then it would lift all the basket and passengers and all the weight of the balloon itself.

>> reporter: ideal conditions are cool and calm with winds of no more than 12 miles an hour, allowing these majestic creations to float on the breeze, slowly dancing across the sky. what's it like to watch not only your sons but also your granddaughter pilot these balloons?

>> i'm pretty proud.

>> reporter: a passion that runs deep