Local hot air balloon makes maiden int'l flight
By Adam Tyrsett Kuo, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- A Taiwanese hot air balloon carrying Taitung Magistrate Justin Huang (黃健庭) took off Wednesday 7:20 a.m. local time in Australia's capital city Canberra as part of the Southern Hemisphere's largest ballooning festival.
March 14, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
The magistrate was dressed in a costume bearing the R.O.C.'s national flag, while the airship was operated by Taitung County-trained pilot Wu Chin-yeh (吳金曄).
Huang posted a message on his Facebook page saying that the event marked the first time a Taiwanese hot air balloon had taken flight abroad.
The magistrate flew with his wife and Australian Ballooning Federation chief Paul Gibbs for an hour.
Huang said that the aboriginal-themed Taitung hot air balloon proved to be very popular, and that a large crowd of compatriots had gathered to witness its maiden flight in Australia.
The magistrate said that the Taitung County Government was very proud to have set down a new chapter in Taiwan's hot air balloon history.
Taitung was able to build a local hot air balloon industry in a relatively short period of time from scratch, Huang said, adding that the county has become a hot air balloon pioneer in Taiwan in terms of legislation, pilot training and other fields.
Wu is reportedly Taiwan's first female hot air balloon pilot and one of the first people to be trained by the county government.
Taitung held its own hot air balloon festival during last year's summer, showcasing 21 craft from 13 countries, including the United States, Canada, Switzerland, France, Spain and Brazil.
The county is slated to hold the event, which has proved to be very popular among visitors and a good source of revenue, again this year.