The Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta just had its 20th annual celebration last week and my sister and I were so grateful to experience this one-of-a-kind fiesta at least for a day. It was actually a four-day event which started from February 11 to February 14. I got the tickets from TicketNet and picked the last day, hoping that it is somehow more special than the rest of the dates since it was the finale. I was so selfish to borrow my sister from her boyfriend on Valentines Day but she said it’s okay because they really don’t have bigger plans that day (they just had their monthsary 3 days ago after all haha)The event was held at the Omni Aviation Complex in Clark Freeport Zone, Angeles City, Pampanga. It features multicolored hot air balloons with more than a hundred balloon pilots from around the world and it is considered as the largest aviation sports event in the Philippines (I’ve heard there will be another Hot Air Balloon event this coming April not in Clark but in Lubao Pampanga). It’s our first Hot Air Balloon Festival and it is also our first time to visit Pampanga. We really had no idea how to get there but thanks to the power of Internet and Google Map, we were able to get there safely and on time. We had to take the 12am bus ride because it takes 2-3 hours before you get to San Fernando. From San Fernando, we rode a Jeepney bound to Angeles (Rotonda) which took another 15-20 minutes. From Angeles City Rotonda, we rode another jeep bound to Astro. The original plan is to take a jeep that will bring us directly to the Clark Main gate but the jeepneys bound to Clark from Angeles Rotonda will start to arrive at four and it was just around 3am at that time. Since we can’t afford to wait for an hour, we had to ride a jeepney bound to Astro and from there we can get a van or jeep that will bring us to the main gate. Luckily, while we are on our way , a van bound to Clark Main Gate passes by and the driver was kind enough to stop the van driver so we can have a ride all the way to the main gate of Clark Airport. From the main gate, we just had to ride another jeep that will take us the Hot Air Balloon venue. We arrived at the venue around 3:30am and we were welcomed by a very long queue of people. I thought we could easily get an access since we already have the tickets but it turned out, there is also a long queue of people who already got a ticket so we have to bear the long queue and wait for almost an hour. Luckily, we are not that late and we still managed to get a nice spot. The event started with a light dance followed by Skydiving Philippine Flag jump. When the sun started to rise, the balloons started to inflate too!
I’ve learned that this is not just an exhibition but a competition known as the “Hare and Hound Hot Air Balloon Flight”. According to Mr Wiki, here’s how the race works. The Hare balloon takes off a set amount of time before the Hound balloons and typically flies with multiple altitude changes to make it more difficult for the chasing balloons to match its flight path. After a set amount of flight time, the Hare will land and typically lay out a target cross for the Hounds to drop their weighted markers near. As above, the distance between a pilot’s marker and the target determines his or her score.The hare for that day is the Philippine Flag hot air balloon so it is expected that the Philippine Flag balloon is the first one to take off. All balloons are almost ready to take offAlthough the Philippine Flag Hot Air Balloon is supposed to be the first one to take off, this Alien-like Balloon was the first one to flew. The Philippine Flag Balloon starting to take off
Check Out that cute Baby Dino on Egg! So Cute!Another Dino and a huge ScarecrowSome of the balloons starting to take off tooEverything is almost ready!The Scarecrow BalloonThe couple balloon is just perfect since it was Valentines Day!Look at them (buti pa sila may FOREVER hehe)The Cathedral BalloonAll balloons floating up in the airThe Hare and Hound Balloon Flight is also followed by a paragliding exhibition headed by the Twinz Acrobatic
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