- 2009/03/14 Inaugural hot air balloon fiesta

If motorists travelling to Putrajaya early last month were caught by surprise at the sight of two colourful hot air balloons slowly floating over several ministries in Precinct 2, then watch out next week when 15 more will fill the sky for four days from March 19 to March 22.

Their appearance will be in conjunction with the inaugural Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2009.

A publicity stunt was held at the Palace of Golden Horses Hotel in Seri Kembangan where reporters were invited to take a static ride in two balloons.

A total of 10 countries are taking part in the international show with two participants from Malaysia ó AKA Balloon and Cat Balloon and with Belgium entering six.

Other participants are Mug Balloon (New Zealand); Hs-Fly Balloon, Peacock and Paddy 2 (Netherlands); Solidaires Par Nature and Independence (France), Voyager (US); Reg.No. RPS 1201 (Philippines); Heart Balloon (Switzerland) and Yui (Japan).

The participants from Belgium are Reg.No.00-Bex, Orange, Nelly-B, Reg.No.00-BZA and Clown.

Image: Two hot-air balloons that will be on show at the Inaugural Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta this month at Precinct 2 being introduced to the media at the Palace of the Golden Horses Hotel in Seri Kembangan.
Two hot-air balloons that will be on show at the Inaugural Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta this month at Precinct 2 being introduced to the media at the Palace of the Golden Horses Hotel in Seri Kembangan.

The four-day event will be co-organised by the Malaysian Sport Aviation Federation (MSAF) and AKA Balloon Sdn Bhd which was formed in 1993.

MSAF and AKA Balloon signed a MoU with their sponsors and partners ó MASkargo, Petronas Dagangan Berhad, Palace of the Golden Horses, Kelantan Delights, Media Prima Berhad, Putrajaya Corporation, Putrajaya Tourism Action Council and Tourism Malaysia.

According to MSAF vice-president Khairuddin Abdul Rani, the MoU signifies the support for the inaugural event which is due to be an annual event in the tourism calendar.

Apart from the daily sorties of hot air balloons, the public will also be treated to other flying events featuring para-motor, remote-controlled planes, helicopters, aero models and professional kite-flying.

"Rides in the hot air balloons will not be offered to the public. Instead visitors can enjoy viewing thrilling take-offs and landings. It would be simply impossible to entertain requests from the public especially when we are anticipating more than 100,000 people to turn up for the four-day event," said Khairuddin.

According to him, international hot air balloon events in the Philippines, which is in its seventh year, easily attract more than 400,000 spectators, while those in Pattaya, Thailand, attracts between 250,000 and 300,000 spectators.

Khairuddin said there was a potential in this sport as there were many hot air balloon enthusiasts taking part in other international events.

Asked what prompted him to organise a hot air balloon fiesta in Putrajaya, Khairuddin said: "I was at one of the international events when I noticed Malaysians taking part. One of them approached me to have a similar event in Malaysia."

Khairuiddin, who has been interested in hot air balloons since he was in college, has flown in South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Britain and the Philippines.

He along with Mohd Sobri (Cat Balloon), a qualified hot air balloon pilot since 1995, are the two Malaysian participants whose long-term objective is to put Malaysia on par with other established events like Saga in Japan or Albuquerque in the United States.

Mohd Sobri, who is the CEO of a local IT company, has flown the hot air balloon all over the world, from the Austrian Alps to the island of Cheju in South Korea.

His ambition is to make Alor Setar, his hometown, a name in the ballooning circle like Saga or Albuquerque.

Khairuddin added that the highlight of the fiesta would be an enchanting Night Glow scheduled to take place on the night of March 21, from 8.30pm to 9pm.

"The hot air balloons will be set up as if they are going to take off and under coded instructions via radio communications, the pilots will create a variety of dazzling effects set to a special music mix," he said.

Cruise Tasik Putrajaya and Perahu Dondang Sayang will be offering special rates during the fiesta for their sightseeing cruise to give spectators the chance to experience Putrajaya like never before.

The fiesta will be held at the car park of the Millennium Monument in Precinct 2 from 7am to 7pm. Entrance is free.

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Related pages:

•  2009/03/11 Balloon fest a first for Malaysia
•  2009/02/06 Hot-air balloons over Putrajaya

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