It was in the fall of 1977, if I remember correctly when I went to Albuquerque, New Mexico to attend an ACSM – American Congress on Surveying and Mapping annual conference. I think this was the first professional conference I ever attended. I wonder what the total is to date?
In any case I woke up and looked out the window of the hotel room to see the sky filled with hundreds of hot air balloons. That was one of the coolest sights I have ever seen.
With Albuquerque the hot air ballooning capital of the country the engineers at Boeing figured this would be a good place to test their 3D mobile mapping system. Turns out the hot air balloon is a perfect platform for testing because you can access the system while in flight. At 20 lbs. for the sensor system it looks like it is destined for a UAV application.