Pampanga will once again be the home of the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, also known as the Weekend of Everything that Flies, which will take place from February 8 to 11, 2017 at the Omni Aviation Complex in Clark for its 22ndion.
Last year, a total of 107,950 visitors flocked to the event, and the 2018 instalment, which is made possible in partnership with ABS-CBN, is primed to rake in more spectators.
This year’s festivities will showcase 26 colorful hot air balloons from all over the world, featuring a handful of new balloons in complex shapes and styles, namely the Happy Heart, Matryoshka Russian Doll, Queen’s Guard, Giant Strawberry, Buddy Balloon, Captain Jack, Princess Nellie, Vostok Balloon, Master Yoda, Morris the Donkey, Bruno the Clown and Pepe the Hedgehog.
The Balloon Fiesta is the longest-running sports aviation event in Asia, annually boosting tourism in Clark, Pampanga and the Philippines as well as promoting the hobby as a legitimate sport among enthusiasts.
For over two decades, the event has stayed true to its longtime objectives: to spark interest in aviation; to instill discipline in young pilots; and to impart a spirit of volunteerism to the whole community.
Early morning balloon flights are followed by non-stop flying activities – including paragliding, skydiving, aerobatic exhibitions, formation flights, balloon bursting competitions and kite flying.
A special sight to watch out for this year is the exhilarating performance of the world-renowned Aerosuperbatics Wingwalkers, who consider themselves “the world’s only aerobatic formation wingwalking team,” performing for the first time in the Philippines.
The audience will be treated to the sight of two Stearman biplanes flown in an energetic routine of dazzling aerobatics doing loops, rolls, stall turns and inverted flights – while two fearless female wingwalkers do their own acrobatic moves and handstands while strapped to the aircraft’s wings. It is a spectacular aerial show not to be missed.
Those interested to see Clark through the eyes of a pilot can book discovery flights, such as hot air balloon rides, tandem skydiving, tandem paragliding, airplane and helicopter rides, and aerobatic flights – all supervised by expert aviators. Discovery flight tickets should be booked through the Fiesta’s official website prior to the Fiesta.
On ground, full-on entertainment is guaranteed for the whole family. Watch supercar drifting exhibitions as airplanes drop flour bombs overhead; catch some drone racing and RC control line flying exhibitions; satisfy your palates and take home unique finds from the Fly Market; or try out archery, horseback riding, camel-riding, and animal feeding.
In the evenings, musical artists from different countries will perform side-by-side with local talents at the One World Music Cultural Exchange Concert. ABS-CBN artists will also stage performances throughout the weekend, with a fireworks display and balloon nightglow that will illuminate the last night of the Fiesta.
Beyond all the flying exhibitions, the PIHABF has made it its mission to annually gather pilots from the world over to show them the beauty of the Philippines, and allow Filipinos to learn from other cultures as well.
Entrance tickets are at Php 500 each, a percentage of which goes to the PIHABF Foundation Scholarship Fund, granting scholarships to underprivileged but deserving students who want to pursue a career in aviation. Tickets are available through the Fiesta’s website, Ticketnet outlets, or at the event gates.