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Hundreds of balloon pilots take off at annual New Mexico fiesta

WATCH ABOVE: Hundreds of hot air balloon pilots and their chase crews gathered in Albuquerque on Friday for an annual hot air balloon festival that has become internationally known.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – 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.

The majority of balloons appeared to be floating south and winds were about 4 mph (6.4 kph), officials said.

All the balloons landed safely around the city a few hours later, authorities said.

This year’s colorful balloons include one shaped like the head of Yoda and another like Darth Vader from “Star Wars.”

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

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