Chase crew volunteers keep Balloon Fiesta afloat

Posted at: 10/08/2013 5:32 PM
By: Kim Tobin, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Crowds at Balloon Fiesta see it firsthand-- getting a balloon up into the sky takes a lot of work. But it's the chase crews who do even more work when the balloon finally lands.

Joe Baca has been coming to Balloon Fiesta since the very beginning when there were only 15 balloons.

"It's fun and it's a lot of nice people," Baca said.

He watched the beautiful scene grow and take over the skies year after year. When he retired from his government job, he made a plan to be a part of it.

"Different shapes and the colors, and you just see a variety of balloons," Baca said. "It's kind of amazing."

For 17 years Baca has been a "Moo Crew" volunteer. They make sure the iconic cow balloon "Airabelle" has a safe flight.

"And that's heavy!" said Baca. "It weighs 900 pounds and we have to carry it."

Sometimes "Airabelle" can land in some tricky spots, putting the crew to work. But Baca says watching the changes over the years at balloon fiesta is something he'll always cherish.

"When I first started in '96 they had two Airabelles on the same day," Baca said. "One was retired and a new one was initiated. And I got to fly in the one that they retired."