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Christmas Gift Guide

Intel goes on the dawn patrol

Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig

Flying fractals

Tie-dyed fractal balloon

Darth Vader peeks out

Piloting Darth Vader's head

Darth Vader aloft

501st gets its Fiesta on

A kiss for Boba Fett

Stormtrooper with balloons

Astronaut balloon lays down

Astronaut looks out

Astronaut balloon standing

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2013 opened on October 5 in a massive, green field. The festival features hundreds of hot air balloons. This Intel hot air balloon was part of Sunday's dawn patrol, a predawn launch of balloons that go up to check weather and wind conditions after lighting up dramatically on the field. Intel has a large chip plant in Albuquerque's neighboring city of Rio Rancho.
Caption by / Photo by Amanda Kooser/CNET
"The Simpsons" brought us a different kind of superhero when Homer Simpson helped a pig cross a ceiling while singing a modified version of the Spider-Man theme song. Spider-Pig was turned into a much-larger-than-life creation with this Spider-Pig hot air balloon that took flight at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Caption by / Photo by Amanda Kooser/CNET
This fractal-inspired hot air balloon was designed and built by Jonathan Wolfe, executive director of the Fractal Foundation, an organization dedicated to inspiring interest in math and science through fractals. Two fractal balloons took to the sky during a morning mass ascension at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Caption by / Photo by Amanda Kooser/CNET
A second fractal balloon rises up in the morning at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Two different fractal balloons took flight along with hundreds of other hot air balloons. The patterns on this balloon were created by Jonathan Wolfe by using tie-dye.
Caption by / Photo by Amanda Kooser/CNET
"Star Wars" made an appearance at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, a nine-day event of mass balloon ascensions and after-dark balloon glows. This photo was taken as the Darth Vader balloon prepared to lift off during a morning mass ascension along with hundreds of other balloons. Darth Vader is in between a lighthouse and a beaver, just a few of the many balloons on display.
Caption by / Photo by Amanda Kooser/CNET
This massive Darth Vader balloon was created in 2007 with the blessing of Lucasfilm. Pilots Lambert Benoit and Lambert Michel are responsible for getting in the air. The balloon envelope (the fabric part) weighs 640 pounds.
Caption by / Photo by Amanda Kooser/CNET
The Darth Vader balloon floats up in the blue Albuquerque sky during the International Balloon Fiesta, an annual event that brings in hundreds of balloon teams to light up and launch their hot air balloons.
Caption by / Photo by Amanda Kooser/CNET
Local chapters of the "Star Wars" fan group the 501st Legion often show up to give the Darth Vader balloon a hand at events. Members of the Dewback Ridge Garrison of the 501st arrived in costume for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. They posed for photos and livened up the scene around the balloon.
Caption by / Photo by Amanda Kooser/CNET
Members of the Dewback Ridge Garrison of the 501st posed for photos with spectators attending the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Crave writer Amanda Kooser plants one on Boba Fett while balloons rise up in the background.
Caption by / Photo by Amanda Kooser/CNET
A costumed Stormtrooper member of a local chapter of the 501st Legion poses for photos near the Darth Vader balloon at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. A clock balloon and a patriotic balloon prepare to take off in the background. "Star Wars" characters in attendance also included Boba Fett, Han Solo, and Princess Leia.
Caption by / Photo by Amanda Kooser/CNET
The Cosmos 1 astronaut balloon is one of the taller balloons at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The orange-suited behemoth lies down, waiting for inflation to be completed before floating upright. The 106-foot-tall balloon is a striking sight among hundreds of other balloons at the festival.
Caption by / Photo by Amanda Kooser/CNET
The astronaut hot air balloon has a reflection of a planet with the sun rising behind it on its helmet. The balloon is one of the taller creations on display at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Caption by / Photo by Amanda Kooser/CNET
The Cosmos 1 astronaut balloon stands up while anchored to the ground at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The Sandia Mountains are in the background. The balloon was inflated on the field as part of a mass ascension, when hundreds of balloons took off in the morning.
Caption by / Photo by Amanda Kooser/CNET
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