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

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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.