Hotair Balloon Fiest at Clark Field, Pampanga

February 2001. The Clark Airfield in Pampanga played host to the annual International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, a three-day event participated in by sports balloonists and aerial sports enthusiasts from around the world. Now on its 7th year, the February 9-11 festival kicked off with a grand display of colorful giant hot air balloons, amazing air show of aerobatic maneuvers and formation flights.

It has been common for Pampangenos to witness spectacular hot air balloons in their hometown since 1994. Usually done in February, the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Competition is held at the OMNI Aviation Complex, Clark Field Pampanga.

Last February 9, several Corporate Hot Air Balloons flew the skies of Angeles City. The competition started at 4:30 in the afternoon. Unfortunately, spectators were asked to wait for the hot air balloon participants since they were all having a hard time inflating and maneuvering the balloon towards the target landing area. The hot air balloons took off from near the Mt. Arayat area and landed at Clark Field. The mechanics of the game states that the balloon which lands nearest to the target location, wins.

Among the participants were MILO, British Telecom, Gulf Air, Air Ads, a Korean company, Nescafe and a Japanese company. Unfortunately, the other balloons were not able to inflate because of strong winds.

Gulf Air won the Friday competition after landing perfectly at Clark field.

Aside from the giant hot air balloons, the three-day festival also featured events such as motorized gliding, ultra-light aircraft formation flying, radio controlled (RC) airplane flying, kite flying, sky diving, hang gliding, paragliding, a paper airplane competition, a boomerang contest, a helicopter flight demonstration, and an Air Force plane airshow.

The competition, held at the grounds of the Omni Aviation Complex, drew participants from Australia, U.K, Germany, Malaysia, Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries. Organized annually by the Hot Air Balloon Club of the Philippines, the festival has the support of the Philippine Air Force and the Department of Tourism.

Among the highlights was the demonstration flight of the world’s smallest helicopter – the Robinson. Almost the size of an ordinary car, the Robinson helicopter flew forward, backward, sideways and upward, with the ease and speed uncharacteristic of normal helicopters.

The members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also displayed their aerobatic skills by parachuting into a designated landing area.

After the grueling competitions, which lasted from daybreak to nightfall, the participantsandvisitors were treated to a night of rave partying and a jazz concert. The participants, who enjoyed themselves immensely, eagerly anticipate the next event.

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