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Thursday April 3, 2008
By ANURADHA RAGU
JOHOR BARU: Johor folks can look forward to the colour and splendour of hot air balloons at the International Balloon Festival set to hit the skies here next month.
The festival to be held from May 9 to 11 at Dataran Bandaraya will feature hot air balloons from countries such as Germany, Poland, United Arab Emirates and Japan.
It will be an eye-opener for many Johoreans as it is the first time such an event will be held in the state, said Johor Baru MP Datuk Shahrir Samad at the event's recent soft launch.
He said, besides putting Johor on the world map, the festival would boost the states tourism industry.
My Fiesta managing director Datin Hasnah Abdul Rahman, who is one of the organisers, said the public could expect three days of fun and excitement.
Ten international balloonist teams have confirmed their participation, said Hasnah,
She said the pilots were excited about coming to Johor as such festivals were previously held only in Kuala Lumpur.
Pilot Faisal Jeber, 37, one of the Malaysian balloonist team members, said he looked forward to flying his hot air balloon.
Piloting in Johor Baru will be a new experience for me and my team, said the Iraqi-born Faisal, who has participated at festivals in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Faisal said his balloon, which is about 25m in height and 2,973 cubic m in volume, is the biggest hot air balloon in the country.
For the festival, the balloons will fly only as high as 500m for best visibility from the ground, said Faisal.
Hasnah said the attractions to watch for were a night display of illuminated hot air balloons and a race from Dataran Bandaraya to Bandar Nusajaya.
She said, besides the balloon displays, other proposed events include skydiving, paragliding, rock climbing, paintball and go-kart races.
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