The Balloon Fiesta
Now on its 18th year!
The 18th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta was held on February 21 to 24, 2013 at the Clark Freeport Zone.
The stars of the fiesta, the hot air balloons never fail to draw excitement.
Last year saw over two dozen balloons from eleven countries, all piloted by volunteers who have come to love the friendly people and friendly skies of the Philippines. Many of our balloons come in special shapes, including farmhouses, mushrooms, and even Darth Vader!
The balloons launch early in the morning when the cool air allows them the most lift. One balloon, the “hare,” goes first, and the other launch together minutes afterward in an attempt to land as close to its landing zone as possible. Hot air balloons have no engines and no way to steer – they go where the wind takes them, so skilled balloonists try to fly at altitudes where the winds are favorable. Once everybody takes off, chase crews in four-wheel drive vehicles fan out across the countryside to meet up with their assigned balloons once they land. It's complex, spectacular, and incredibly fun to watch – but don't take our word for it!
Pro Tip: Don't have the $250 contribution needed for a balloon ride? There's usually a tethered balloon on the grounds so you and your family can experience going up in a balloon without having to worry about where to land! Lines may be long, chase crew not included.
The arrival of the Breitling Jet Team marks a new era for the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.
The precision, speed, and audacity of the world's premier civilian jet team are a product of consummate skill and a very, very nice squadron of L-39 Albatros jets. They loop, roll, and fly in formation, thundering across the sky in the way only jet aircraft can.
Pro Tip: Consider wearing ear protection if you're near the fence line -- jet aircraft are LOUD!
Don't ever tell a remote-control airplane pilot that his plane isn't "real". They're real, alright, just not, "full-size"!
The Philippines is home to many remote control aircraft hobbyists, all with a unique focus. In past years, we've seen solar-powered RCs, aerobatic RCs, and even remote-control helicopters with gyro-stabilized video cameras (wanna be on the news? Wave at the RC!). Last year saw the debut of our popular jet- powered RCs, each powered by miniature turbojet engines!
Apparently, RC doesn't just mean "Remote Control;" it also means "Really Cool!"
Many people can fly kites, but not everyone can make them dance!
See for yourself as Kite Team Philippines and the Philippine Kite Association team up to show you the best of kite flying in the country. The guys use special multistring kites, and can make them fly in formation, dance to music, and even land in the palm of your hand.
Pro Tip: Kites are available for purchase at the Fiesta grounds. Feel free to get a kite for yourself and support our local craftsmen at the same time. They come in all shapes and sizes and are proudly Philippine- made. It's not unusual to see hundreds of kites flying at the same time at the Fiesta. Join the fun -- and don't trip over the kite strings!
Our pilots love to show off their skills, and there's no better place to do it than the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta!
Watch our famous balloon bursting event as various light aircraft hunt down party balloons and try to pop them with their propellers! Championships in recent years have been divided between the Angeles City Flying Club and the Philippine Navy, who once popped a balloon with only one of their two engines running! Showoffs.
Pro Tip: This event calls for crowd participation –- someone has got to release the party balloons upwards! Wait for our announcer Buddy Lopa to send out the call for volunteers. Bring sunblock!
There are many kinds of aircraft at the Fiesta, but few lend themselves to showmanship as well as paragliders.
Despite their fragile appearance, paragliders are surprisingly sturdy and highly maneuverable. Capable of flying so slowly you can see the pilots waving at you, they are allowed to fly lower and closer to the crowd than any other manned aircraft at the Fiesta. Our paraglider pilots hail from many different countries and are perpetually starved for attention (kulang sa pansin). Be sure to wave back at them as they buzz around the field!
Pro Tip: Watching one of these things take off is hilarious. The pilot spreads his parachute (the “canopy”) behind him, switches on his motor, and runs until he's fast enough to jump in the air and start flying.
Long viewed as the domain of daredevils and military special forces units, skydiving has come to the Fiesta in a big way! Expert parachutists from the Philippines and abroad have joined forces with AFP specialists to give you a show unlike any other in the country. From our crack-of-dawn flag jump to the mass drops so beloved by our crowds, our parachuting events are always a joy to watch. Bring sunglasses!
German pilot Rolf Dunder brought glider flight to the Philippines, and he's making his case with such feats as flying halfway across Luzon – without an engine! Hailing from a gorgeous little farm-turned-airstrip in Nampicuan, he and his glider have taken their place as the Fiesta's premier noontime act! Because gliders fly best when there's a lot of hot air, Rolf cheerfully takes to the air while balloonists, skydivers, and other pilots watch from the ground. He usually launches himself skyward with a custom winch co-designed with a Filipino.
Pro Tip: Rolf flies during the hottest part of the day, so have umbrellas, sunglasses, hats, and sunblock handy!
The Angeles City Flying Club has always been a big contributor to the Fiesta. With membership ranging from foreign retirees to young people looking for adventure, the ACFC has always nurtured a love of flying and adventure with a minimum of hassle. Hailing from their idyllic Woodland aerodrome northeast of Clark, these guys fly some of the most unique machines at the Fiesta. Their aircraft are small and are referred to as ultralights, but they're no lightweights – one of these things flew from Aparri to Jolo back in 1998 to celebrate our centennial! Look for them as they participate in flybys and periodically drop flour bombs on targets in the show area.
Pro Tip: Check out the ACFC booth for details on the club, the ultralights, and the members! You may even get an ultralight ride out of the deal!
Watch your tax pesos at work as Clark's firefighting team and the Philippine Coast Guard leap into action!
These brave professionals put themselves at risk “that others may live,” and have the best equipment in the country for putting out raging infernos and rescuing people at sea. With nerves of steel and winning smiles, these are the guys everybody wants to be friends with.
Pro Tip: The Coast Guard rescue team needs volunteers to be “rescued” during their demos! This generally involves being winched into a helicopter, so only volunteer if you enjoy heights!