Local hot air balloon company offering Good Friday flights over Tomé Hill

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The Good Friday pilgrimage is a long-standing tradition that attracts thousands of people. With pilgrimages canceled this year due to the pandemic, a local hot air balloon company is offering an alternative that will take pilgrims to new heights.

A trio of crosses stands at the very top of the hill of Tomé. “It’s a good climb, you sacrifice yourself climbing,” said Andrea Padilla, president of the Tomé Land Grant association. Every Good Friday, before COVID, thousands of people climbed to the top to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus. “It’s a very, very deep, spiritual, religious, deep-rooted meaning for them,” Padilla says.

This year, hot air balloon company, Fly Albuquerque, offers a new way to honor tradition, with a Good Friday flight over Tomé Hill. “I think a lot of people will experience more spirituality. Sometimes when you look at it from top to bottom, you get that spiritual feeling,” says Padilla.

Pilot Brittany Campbell says she was looking for a way to give back to the Tomé Hill Land Grant Association. “We’ll have five or six balls out there and they’re all pilots I work with all the time and trust,” Campbell said.

The flight costs $300. Campbell says they hope to book 15 to 20 passengers. Land grant officials plan to use the donation to help local students. “It will go straight to a scholarship,” Padilla says.

Even though the Archdiocese of Santa Fe canceled the Tomé Hill and Chimayo group pilgrimages again this year, the archdiocese does not own or control Tomé Hill, so land grant officials say people are welcome this good friday. “I believe there will still be a lot of people walking to the top of Tomé and we can fly over and see that. They will be able to see the balloons. Everyone loves to see balloons, so this will be a mutually exciting event,” Campbell said.

Campbell says if Good Friday flights have to be canceled due to weather, they will be rescheduled for another day. The money will still go to the Tomé Land Grant Association.