US

International balloon fiesta organizers say no drones at annual event, cite safety concerns

  • A balloon crew from Goodyear, Arizona, packs up the envelop of their hot air balloon after affixing banners to it in preparation for the start of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014. The annual fiesta kicks off Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, when hundreds of hot air balloons are expected to participate in the opening mass ascension. Organizers want to be clear no drones will be allowed. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

    A balloon crew from Goodyear, Arizona, packs up the envelop of their hot air balloon after affixing banners to it in preparation for the start of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014. The annual fiesta kicks off Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, when hundreds of hot air balloons are expected to participate in the opening mass ascension. Organizers want to be clear no drones will be allowed. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2011 file photo, hot air balloons are shown at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta before take off. The world's largest gathering of hot air balloons is getting ready to kick off and organizers want to be clear: No drones allowed. Hundreds of balloon pilots will be lifting off around dawn Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, marking the first mass accession of the nine-day Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras,File)

    FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2011 file photo, hot air balloons are shown at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta before take off. The world's largest gathering of hot air balloons is getting ready to kick off and organizers want to be clear: No drones allowed. Hundreds of balloon pilots will be lifting off around dawn Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, marking the first mass accession of the nine-day Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras,File)  (The Associated Press)

The world's largest gathering of hot air balloons is getting ready to kick off and organizers want to be clear: No drones allowed.

Hundreds of balloon pilots will be lifting off around dawn Saturday, marking the first mass accession of the nine-day Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Organizers say prohibiting drones within a 4-mile radius of the launch field comes down to a matter of safety for the balloonists, who already have enough distractions with power lines, buildings and other balloons as they drift over the city.

Event director Don Edwards says the popularity of drones has skyrocketed and officials want to make sure no unmanned aircraft show up over balloon fiesta park.

The annual event attracts tens of thousands of spectators from around the world.