New Mexico

Hundreds of balloon pilots take off at annual New Mexico fiesta

  • Crew members of the hot air balloon dubbed "First Light," prepare to inflate the envelope during the Aloft event at S.Y. Jackson Elementary School, marking the first official event of this year's Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. The nine-day fiesta gets underway Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, with a mass ascension of hundreds of balloons at balloon fiesta park. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

    Crew members of the hot air balloon dubbed "First Light," prepare to inflate the envelope during the Aloft event at S.Y. Jackson Elementary School, marking the first official event of this year's Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. The nine-day fiesta gets underway Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, with a mass ascension of hundreds of balloons at balloon fiesta park. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)  (The Associated Press)

  • Students surround Albuquerque pilot Steve Adams' basket as he operates the propane burner during the Aloft event at S.Y. Jackson Elementary School, marking the first official event of this year's Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. The nine-day fiesta gets underway Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, with a mass ascension of hundreds of balloons at balloon fiesta park. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

    Students surround Albuquerque pilot Steve Adams' basket as he operates the propane burner during the Aloft event at S.Y. Jackson Elementary School, marking the first official event of this year's Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. The nine-day fiesta gets underway Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, with a mass ascension of hundreds of balloons at balloon fiesta park. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)  (The Associated Press)

  • Two hot air balloons inflate during the Aloft event at S.Y. Jackson Elementary School, marking the first official event of this year's Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. The nine-day fiesta gets underway Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, with a mass ascension of hundreds of balloons at balloon fiesta park. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

    Two hot air balloons inflate during the Aloft event at S.Y. Jackson Elementary School, marking the first official event of this year's Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. The nine-day fiesta gets underway Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, with a mass ascension of hundreds of balloons at balloon fiesta park. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)  (The Associated Press)

The mass ascension of hundreds of hot air balloons above Albuquerque went off without a hitch Saturday morning.

Pilots began launching shortly after 7 a.m. at the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Officials say the majority of balloons appeared to be floating south and winds were about 4 mph.

They say the balloons are poised to land in downtown, Kirtland Air Force Base or in northeast Albuquerque.

This year's colorful balloons include two shaped like the heads of Yoda and Darth Vader from "Star Wars."

Organizers this year have equipped all 550 pilots with tablet computers capable of running a mapping application that will enable them to steer clear of the many restricted areas or prohibited zones like airport flight paths, the zoo and other locations.