TRAFFIC was halted before a hot air balloon landed in the middle of a federal trunk road near Padang Jawi in Nibong Tebal, Penang.
This incident occurred during a promotional ride for the press yesterday (Jan 10), in view of the coming Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta to be held at the Polo Ground on Feb 9 and 10.
MyBalloon Adventure director Izzati Khairuddin, whose company is organising the balloon fiesta, explained that marshalls had stopped the traffic before the balloon landed.
“Safety is our priority. I’m also a pilot myself. Our marshalls had blocked vehicles from passing by. After the balloon had landed, it was quickly pushed to the side of the road, deflated and folded.
“Hot air balloon landing on road is not uncommon. This is the not the first time and it will not be the last. But we don’t make it a habit,” Izzati told a press conference in Komtar today.
She added that the landing of the balloon largely depends on the direction of the wind, although the pilot could control its vertical descent.
Izzati said the balloon landed on an ‘inaccessible’ field initially and it was floated again for the second landing.
The balloon was then carrying 10 people, including state Tourism Development, Heritage, Culture and Arts Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin.
It was piloted by Captain Jonas Van Doorsselaere, who has 17 years of experience. The flight in all took about 45 minutes.
“I was calm during the whole journey. The pilot communicated with the passengers and the ground crew. He decided to land on the road, and it was only after the ground crew stopped the traffic did the balloon land,” Yeoh said.
For those who are interested in the adventure, the organiser has scheduled flights, lasting about 45 mins to an hour, on Feb 8, 9 and 10 at Padang Jawi.
The cost is RM888 per person, inclusive of return pick-up service from hotel, pre-flight refreshment, in-flight snacks and photo, post-flight ceremony and certificate.
More details are available at www.myballoonfiesta.com.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Alissala Thian