‘’Rajinikanth 2.0", Won the Hearts in Intl. Balloon Festival held in Chennai.Jan 09, 2019
The fifth Tamil Nadu International Hot Air Balloon festival for the year 2019 kicked off in Chennai on Sunday, 6th of January. This will be the second since the festival’s origin to be held in Chennai. Professional balloonists stopped by Chennai en route to Pollachi, the final venue.
Tamil Nadu’s tourism department hosted the event. It is organized every year and its purpose is to promote tourism in the region and the state.
The curtain raiser took place at Chengalpattu within Mahindra World City. Mahindra World City is India's first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and India's 1st integrated business city. It is a public–private partnership promoted by the TIDCO and Mahindra Group.
Benedict Savio, the man behind the festival and a professional balloonist noted, “A balloonist needs a pilot license, like the flyer of any other aircraft. The issuing authorities, stages of examination, and other formalities are the same as what a commercial pilot will have to undergo. The practical test, of course, is different.”
The efforts involved in bringing the balloons to Chennai from all over the world is nothing short of tedious. The preparations go on for months to get the balloons to the destination. Benedict notes that the permits required are similar to bringing a proper aircraft from overseas. Each balloon is believed to weigh up to one and half tonnes.
There were a total of 10 balloons present, that arrived from all over the world. Some of the balloons were brought from Countries like the US, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Poland, and France. Most of the balloons were brought for the first time to Tamil Nadu.
The balloons were tethered to the ground at Chennai during event due to various reasons. Benedict says “When you are flying a hot air balloon, you can only control its altitude, not its direction.”
He adds “So, safety becomes an issue. Getting permission to fly one within city limits is nearly impossible. In Pollachi, visitors can take balloon rides...we have flying permission within the radius of a few kilometers.” In Chennai, however, it will be a spectator event, with a good dose of music. “The balloons will be moving in sync with the tunes.” A food court will also be present in the venue.
The most attractive hot air balloon was Rajinikanth’s 2.0. The local theme was relished by the visitors as they wooed and clapped when it was unveiled.
The tourism board also inflated its giant balloon, which adores the Indian tri-colour and this was also a celebrated part of the event. Estimates suggested that around 50,000 participants were believed to be present for the event.