Festival spreads its wings


Hot air balloons of different shapes and sizes floating above the architectural landscape of Putrajaya. — Photos: Sam Tham/The Star

A giant octopus, a hatching chick and a smiling heart.

These were some of the shapes of hot air balloons that took to the sky early in the morning and flew across the magnificent landscape of Putrajaya during a hot air balloon ride for the media.

We made our way through the calm but slightly hazy sky, giving people below a visual treat.

Early risers in the residential neighbourhood waved at us as we drifted above them.

This was part of the 9th MyBalloonFiesta 2017, held from March 12 to 15, that attracted more than 20 balloon pilots from 12 participating countries including Germany, the Netherlands, the US, Belgium and Japan.

As the dawn broke, pilots and passengers drifted through the air high above the buildings of Putrajaya after lifting off from the Monumen Alaf grounds.


A balloon pilot holding the fire burner towards the balloon to fill it up with hot air while her helpers try to balance it.
A balloon pilot holding the fire burner towards the balloon to fill it up with hot air while her helpers try to balance it.

Architect-turned-balloon pilot Jonathan Wright, whose balloon was built mainly for racing, said he was glad to be in Malaysia for the second time.

“Flying here in Malaysia was fun, and I love this country. It is different from flying for a competition because usually I would have my brother here as a navigator.

“The fun ride is relaxing and I get to see a lot of nice architecture here,” he said.

Another pilot, Syed Karimulla, said even though this was his third visit to Malaysia for the same event, the experience was still nothing short of amazing.

“Putrajaya is developed, and I am awestruck by its beautiful landscape.

“I have been flying for 10 years on commercial balloon flights in Dubai and India, especially over the Taj Mahal, but I always like to return here,” he said.

The event, which debuted nine years ago, was organised by AKA Balloon Sdn Bhd.

Dubbed “Balloon in the Park”, this year’s edition featured a range of unique balloons and took place for the first time at Desa Park City, Kuala Lumpur, with a few activities also happening at Putrajaya.

People from all walks of life thronged the thriving township to catch a glimpse of the hot air balloon.

Hot air balloons of different shapes and sizes taking to the sky in Putrajaya during the 9th Myballoon Fiesta.
Hot air balloons of different shapes and sizes taking to the sky in Putrajaya during the 9th Myballoon Fiesta. 

AKA Balloon chief executive officer Izzati Khairudin, who is one of the country’s first female hot air balloon pilots, said having the event at Desa Park City gave more people the chance to experience the balloons up close.

“Our aim is to increase awareness and educate as many people as we can about hot air balloons, so we decided to bring the fiesta closer towards the city centre.

“The fiesta is also one of the ways to highlight the beauty of hot air balloons.

“In our last expedition, my sister and I travelled to various states in Peninsular Malaysia, educating young students on hot air balloons and what it takes to have a safe flight.

“We are hoping to do the same in Sabah and Sarawak soon,” she said.

During the event at Desa Park City, the balloons were grounded for the public to enjoy and experience up-close.

At night, balloon burners were ignited in sync with the live music, giving visitors a splendid display of “glowing lightbulbs” in the dark.

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