CLARK FREEPORT -- This year's Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (PIHABF) set on February 16 to 18 at the New Clark City will not just feature "a weekend of everything that flies" but also many firsts in terms of flying entertainment in the country.
Captain Joy Roa, Event Director of the PIHABF, disclosed this during Wednesday's press conference at Hann Hotel.
He said the event will feature an aerobatics team from England which are expected to dazzle spectators with world-class flying skills and daring maneuvers.
The group will fly from afternoon until early evening, according to Roa.
Aside from the flying exhibitions from regular and special-shaped hot air balloons, helicopters, skydivers, paragliders, radio-controlled aircraft, and kites, he said the event will also feature the first turbine-powered paramotor.
"We will also have an international drone competition sanctioned by the Federation Aeronotique Internationale," Roa said, adding that the event will also feature pyrotechnics and band performances to cater to various audiences.
This year's event, which will be held at New Clark City, is the 24th balloon fiesta inside Clark Freeport.
PIHABF is being held inside the Freeport since 1991 under the slogan "A Weekend of Everything that Flies".
Engineer Joshua Bingcang, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), said the event is expected to draw thousands of tourists.
He added that all possible support and assistance will be given to the PIHABF to ensure the safety of participants and spectators.
Facilities inside the New Clark City, which will be used for the event, include the 20,000-seater Athletics Stadium, aquatics center and various open grounds according to Bingcang.
He added that the venue is big enough to accommodate the spectators.
Roa described New Clark City as "much nicer" as it is far from the airport enabling more participants to fly from "left, right and center."
Businessman Rene Romero of the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the event generates an average of 120,000 spectators.
Romero added that the commercial activity generated by the event impacts on local communities and businesses.
"More than the commercial activity, the prestige and tourism impact of the event is considerable for Pampanga," Romero said.