Witness one of the very first feats of human flight this coming February 12 to 15 at the 19th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival (PIHABF) at the Philippine Air Force ADAC Hangar in Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga.
Earlier this year, a memorandum of agreement to hold the annual balloon fiesta was signed by Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president Arnel Casanova, Clark Development Corporation (CDC) president Arthur Tugade, Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) president, (then) chief executive officer Victor Jose Luciano, and Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Foundation Inc. (PIHABF) president Capt. Joy Roa at the Asian Air Safari hangar in Pasay City.
The Weekend of Everything That Flies will have all its four days full of flying activities—including hot air ballooning, aerobatic exhibitions, skydiving, powered paragliding, aviation formation, search and rescue flight demonstrations, and balloon bursting, as well as other skyward spectacles.
32 hot air balloons from all over the world will be participating in this year’s festival, with special-shaped balloons featuring Old MacDonald’s Farm, Maximus the Beagle Dog, Burnie the Little Devil, Upside Down Balloon, Miss Daisy, Old Lady & the Shoe, Little Girl and Little Boy, Pink Elephant, Octopus, and Vincent Van Gogh, among a host of colorful traditional balloons.
After the balloons take off at 6:00 AM, guests can also enjoy a variety of aerial exhibitions which include skydiving, motorized paragliding, aerobatics, formation flying, radio-controlled model flights, kite-flying, and rocketry. If the weather permits, the balloons will take to the air once again at 5:45 PM.
Once the attendees’ necks grow tired of looking to the sky, they can still enjoy the other activities peppered across the festival grounds. Car-drifting exhibitions with airplanes dropping flour bombs overhead; firefighting and safety demonstrations by the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC); unique goods and food finds at the “Fly Market”; OPM bands performing onstage courtesy of Radio Republic; booths of various aviation schools; birds and other animal species at the Zoocobia mini zoo; and a free Valentines Concert staged by Jeepney TV on the third fiesta night, which falls on Valentine’s Day. At the fourth day’s eve will be a fireworks display and nightglow to cap off the festivities.
Beauty for a cause
The 19th PIHABF will also be host to the Miss Aviation beauty pageant. Started in the 1970s, Miss Aviation aims to promote, advocate, and inspire the youth to have a career in aviation and support the Philippines’ tourism efforts. A total of 20 female aviation students and professionals will be competing for the title to be awarded on February 10 at the Annual Aviator’s Ball at the Manila Peninsula.
The country’s outstanding pilots will have one in their ranks named as the Aviator of the Year during the ball. The award is given to those who’ve contributed exceptionally in upgrading the region’s safety standards and aviation interests. Other awards to be presented are: Fixed Wing Pilot of the Year, Helicopter Pilot of the Year, Flight Instructor of the Year, Female Pilot of the Year, CAAP Check Pilot of the Year, CAAP Controller of the Year, and Aircraft Mechanic of the Year.
According to the event’s director, Captain Joy Roa, “We have so much to learn from our foreign counterparts, and this fiesta is an opportunity to share and exchange cultures and ideas. Of course, this is also a chance for us to showcase the world renowned Filipino hospitality,” he said.
Roa added, “Despite the challenges and the setbacks, we are dogged in our determination to mount this event year after year because more than a spectacle, this is an advocacy for us. We want to educate everyone, especially the youth, about the beauty of aviation and the many life lessons we can learn from it.”
The PIHABF 2015 was made possible with the support of the Bases Conversion Development Authority, Clark Freeport, Clark International Airport, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, together with media partners the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Malaya Business Insight, Business World, Business Mirror, Pilipino Mirror, Natural 97.9 FM, DWIZ, ABS CBN, and sponsors, SM City Clark, UPS, Prudential Guarantee, Hotdog on Stick, CDO Bibbo Hotdog, Segway, Qube, Kopiko, Rudy Project, The Medical City, Yellow Cab, Tempra, Snow Cone, Flanax, Bonamine, Garant Group, and Radio Republic.
Entrance tickets to the festival cost PHP 300 each. The proceeds are donated to the PIHABF Foundation Scholarship Fund which grants scholarships to deserving but underprivileged students pursuing an aviation career in partnership with Air Link International Aviation School and the Philippine Air Transport and Training Services. Tickets may be purchased at the fiesta’s official website, at Ticketnet outlets, or at the event gates.