It’s not the Hindenburg, its the Hot Air Balloon Festival at Clark

Even before the Wright Brothers invented airplanes, man have been obsessed about flying in a balloon-type capsule. The "Aerostat Reveillon" was launched into the air in 1783 by Pilatre de Rozier who decided it was dangerous for him to ride it, so he instead put a duck, a rooster and a sheep as its passenger. The balloon went flying in the air for 15 minutes before it crashed back down to the ground. The animals went unscathed but with bit of shock. 


The "Hindenburg" wasn't classified as a hot air balloon because it uses Hydrogen to make it lift into the air. But its the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions flying balloons. I first saw the footage of the "Hindenburg" disaster when I was in elementary one day after school when I was watching a documentary on TV. The Hindenburg was a passenger airship which caught fire and exploded as it was making its landing in New York in 1937.  Prior to the tragedy, it has made 10 successful voyage from America to Europe and back. 

The whole tragedy was captured on news reel accompanied by the famous commentary by Herbert Morrison , it has since became one of the most played audio/video reporting in history as Morrison, with his shaking voice and emotionally charged commentary tried to describe the ensuing inferno happening on the Hindenburg - which took the lives of 35 people.

The commentary went on as "Oh, the humanity! And all the passengers, screaming around here. I told you; it-I can't even talk to people, their friends are out there! ah! It''s a...ah!...I..." - Herbert Morrison.

After the Hindenburg tragedy, the use of hydrogen was replaced by helium and after that Balloon flying re-appeared and gained popularity when the 'Double Eagle II' successfully crossed the Atlantic in 1978, thus becoming the first balloon to achieve such a feat. Soon, other adventurers which include British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand became the first to cross the Atlantic aboard a "Hot Air Balloon" instead of a helium filled balloon in 1987.

When man have realized the safety of hot air balloon even in long haul ass flights, it even reached another level of popularity reaching the Philippines in the mid 1990's when the first Hot Air Balloon Festival was held at Clark field in Pampanga.

Last week, I was able to attend the 16th Hot Air Balloon Festival at Clark for the first time and I found myself staring up at the sky at the different colorful hot air balloons. It was a sight to behold, gone are the shock of the Hindenburg image that I saw when I was young.

Others flew in the sky shaped like ovals while others shaped like a house, a mushroom, a beer keg and even a snowman and a Darth Vader. Many people started to line up on the fence surrounding the field. We positioned ourselves near the fence to get a good look at the hot air balloons being set up for their flight in the air.

We bought tickets priced at 150.00 pesos to get inside where food stalls and other exhibits are located. Most of the people went there with their families, some pitched tents in the vast field planning to stay until the night to witness the hot air balloons parading in the dark sky with only its lights illuminating it. I missed that one since we left just after lunch time and only arrived early dusk of that day.

I went with my friends Cai, Josh and Darwin and Cai's friend from work. I wasn't supposed to come since I came tired from Saturday but decided at the last minute to board a Dau bound bus in Cubao at the wee hours of Sunday and I was glad I did because I really enjoyed that Sunday seeing all those Hot Air Balloons and wondering what it was like being on it up there in the sky. 

I had three things on my bucket list that Sunday, one is to ride a hot air balloon, two is to experience sky diving and three is to fly a small plane.  To echo Morrison's "Oh the Humanity" commentary on the Hindenburg disaster, I'll say it with a different meaning this time. "Oh the humanity" has advanced technology far and wide with complex theories on how each things works, but the best thing about those hot air balloons flying over Clark field that day, it isn't really perplexing at they seem, simple things can make a thing fly up in the air as simple as heating it up.

And simple things like traveling and experiencing new things is what makes my zest for life fly high.