candies in the sky
Hot air balloons were just fragments of my childhood’s story book memories. Like candies flying in the sky peeking behind white fluffy cotton clouds. This came to life in the fields of Clark in Pampanga in the tune of P250 (2010).
For 16 years, Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is being celebrated at the Omni Aviation Complex in Clark Field, Angeles City, Pampanga every February when the air is cold, suitable for hot air to rise up the sky. In the later half of the recent decade, Filipinos discovered this event. The sight attracted both photographers and kids, though I must say, if you’re a photo enthusiast, it will be a struggle to take perfect frames if you don’t have access beyond the fence.
Yes, the spectators are confined in a viewing area within the tarmac, the balloons are taking flight from the grass field separated by a whole stretch of wire fence. That’s what you get for a general admission fee of around PhP 250. But if you want the real thing, you may pay US$ 100/person to fly with the balloon, you may also want to get in touch with the organizers to have a basket reserved ahead of time.
Balloons start revving-up the torch while it’s still dark, say 5-ish. That means if you’re driving from manila, you have to leave the metro during the wee hours at around three to reach the venue in time for the flight. Also, give a time allowance for you to queue-up the ticket booth, line can stretch up to 500 meters.
The flight may last for an hour, that’s the only time window to take good shots AND what most spectators are waiting to see.
Things to do after the last balloon left:
- Watch air craft/sky divers exhibitions
- Ride a light weight aircraft
- Take pictures of people
- See the Philippine Air Force exhibit
- Join the photo contest
- Fly a kite
- Buy toys (all sorts)
- Feast on ice cones, hotdogs and freebies
The festival also features a number of events in skydiving, flag jumps, micro light and rocketry demonstrations, small plane fly-bys and fly-ins, remote-control airplane and helicopter flying exhibitions, freestyle aerobatics, precision maneuvers, light airplane balloon bursting, ultra-light flying formation and bomb dropping (oh yes they do! but not those like of Hiroshima’s), kite-making and choreographed kite-flying, hi-start launch gliding, pylon racing, banner towing, aero-modeling symposium and races between ultra lights and motorcycles.
In a bird’s eye Balloon’s eye view, it was an event for the kids and young at heart. It started as an event for aviation and aero-enthusiast, then it slowly became a family oriented tradition. That is why it’s an ironic juxtaposition of contrasting subjects. After all the “coloring book comes to life” images in the sky, you will see armed platoon with all the ammunitions and arsenals on display.
You can play with the toys…
… as well with the boys.
looking for where you parked your car is a different story!
GETTING THERE BY CAR:
Take the North Luzon Expressway from Manila, Philippines and exit at Dau, Mabalacat. Make a left turn towards Angeles City then a right to Clark.