17th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

    The Organizers of the 17th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2012 (PIHABF) have developed this annual event to be the largest spectator event in the Philippines. Each year, bigger and better events, competitions and attractions are added to the Fiesta. The Fiesta site at Air Force City, Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, Clark Field has been enlarged to cope with the expected 100,000 visitors who will attend the coming Fiesta 9-12 February, 2012.

    2012 Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta
    2012 Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

    To attract return visitors to the Fiesta, new activities are added each year. This year features a host of new displays and participants to thrill the crowds.

    This year, the balloon Fiesta will host a total of 26 balloons including several specially shaped balloons. These will include “Iwi the Kiwi,” a kiwi-shaped balloon from New Zealand, and the ”Ice Cream Cone,” the “Birthday Cake,” and “Miss Daisy” from the USA. Belgian owners and pilots will be displaying and flying the orange-shaped “Sunkist Balloon.” A “Yellow Car” shaped balloon is coming from Germany.

    Regular-shaped balloons will be coming from the USA, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands Austria, Japan, England, Korea and the Philippines. This year will also be the first time the Fiesta hosts pilots and a balloon from Poland. SM Clark will also be flying their brand new SM balloon for the first time this year.

    Parachute drops form a staple of the Fiesta. This year, the Brunei Armed forces will provide a spectacular fifteen-man jump team. Malaysia will also be sending a team of fifteen skydivers. Our own PNP will also have twenty jumpers and there will be at least 15 independent jumpers from around the Philippines and Southeast Asia. In total this means we may have over 60 skydivers and the availability of the PAF C130 could promise a spectacular mass jump. For folks who wish to experience skydiving, we will have two professional skydivers from U.K. with tandem rigs.

    The Armed forces of the Philippines have extended an invitation to the US, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and USA to attend a meeting of mutual cooperation. Fortuitously, this will occur immediately prior to the Hot Air Balloon fiesta. The countries attending have willingly accepted the invitation to be part of the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta and mark the end of the centennial year of aviation in the Philippines with their presence.

    This provides a unique opportunity for fiesta-goers to see a F-16 Fighting Falcon and a C-17 Globemaster III, which will perform fly-bys and displays each day. Our own Philippine Air Force will exhibit and fly their SIAI Marchetti SF260TP turboprop trainers and give search and rescue flying demonstration. Within the show grounds, the PAF will have static displays of their military hardware, weapons and personnel. The Philippine Coast Guard will also perform a daily search and rescue demonstration using an Islander and a Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Bo 105.

    A 5-year restoration project of a classic Boeing Stearman biplane has finally been completed and this year the aircraft – designed in the 1940s – will perform at the fiesta each day. This bright yellow vintage trainer with its massive radial engine is a rarity in the skies above Asia, and the Fiesta is the best place to see this magnificent warbird in action.

    This year, we will have the biggest contingent of motorized paragliders ever from Malaysia. More Filipino paraglider pilots will also participate and pilots from Australia and Spain will add to the truly international mix.

    Visitors won’t want to miss the thrilling aerobatic routines of Capt. Meynard Halili in his Bellanca Super Decathalon. Loops, rolls, chandelles, stall turns, spins and many other highly complex flight maneuvers are a testament to his considerable skills and precision and the ability of his aircraft to withstand the enormous G-forces imposed during these breathtaking flight maneuvers.

    Philippine resident and German Pilot Rolf Dunder will bring his single-seat glider and winch rig to fly above the show grounds each day, proving that you don’t need an engine to wow the crowd at the Fiesta. Achieving flight to 800 meters by means of a steel cable, Rolf will release at this altitude and skillfully find rising currents of air to sustain his flight over the crowds below.

    The Philippines has become a destination of choice for many international student pilots taking their first steps into the world of commercial aviation. Many of the schools which offer private and commercial flight courses will have display booths in a dedicated area within the show grounds.

    Static displays of aircraft, kites, hobbyist clubs, and military equipment will provide visitors plenty to see and do. The Aviators Ball held during the Fiesta is a good opportunity for pilots and aircraft operators to get together. This year, scholarship will be awarded to two aeronautical engineers from Roxas City.

    A kid’s Activity Center sponsored by Crayola and Hot Dog on Stick, Kite making demonstrations and workshops, flight simulators, photo booths, and paint-balling grounds will further ensure that everyone finds something to do throughout the event. Of course, finding refreshing drinks and fast food is a staple for any event of this size. No less than sixty food concessionaires will be on hand to serve a wide variety of food and drinks to thirsty and hungry participant and visitors.

    The Angeles City Flying Club will thrill the audience with their formation fly-bys and flour and water bombing competitions. Included in the mix of at least ten ultralight aircraft will be a couple of weight-shift tricycle microlights.

    As always, the balloon bursting competition promises to be hotly contested. Many of the flight schools and private aircraft owners take to the skies in an attempt to burst balloons released in front of the show line. As in previous years, the Philippine Navy and Coastguard will also want to participate in this event, showing off their considerable piloting skills.

    Radio control aircraft have always been a staple at the Balloon Fiesta. As each year passes, the models get bigger and bigger. We can expect to the see the very latest turbojet fighter aircraft dexterously handled by some of the most skilled radio control pilots around. They sound real; they look real! Once the jets have landed, highly aerobatic piston type aircraft will put on stunning displays of aerobatics to please the crowd.

    Many unique aircraft will perform flybys to give the audience a view of the full spectrum of aviation. From corporate business jets to small commuter planes, work horses to training aircraft, the audience will have a chance to see them all.

    Throughout the show, ground events will pique the crowd’s interest. Whether this be marching bands from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the colorful Ibon-Ebun Dancers, Flying Dance shows, or military precision drill and marching teams, the Fiesta offers it all on the ground as well as in the air.

    Rocketeers will bring a selection of their carefully designed rockets and fire these off during specific show times. Kite enthusiasts and Kite Team Philippines will also perform precision formation displays.

    If you are planning to visit Clark for the next Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, you can search for Cheap Flights by subscribing on Google Alerts using your favorite airline discount related keyword. I was able to book a cheap international flights by doing so.

    Sponsors of the 17th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta include many titans of the Philippine business community, such as Caltex, Rudy Project, SM City Clark, Global Gateway Logistics City, UPS, Krukspec, Isuzu Philippines, Crayola, Sunkist, Philippine Daily Inquirer, ROX Recreational Outdoor Exchange, Yellow Cab Pizza, Close Up, and Air Asia.

    The organizers promise a “Weekend of Everything that Flies” – You are promised this and a whole lot more.

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