Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Yemen's First Balloon

A Yemeni has imported a custom designed Firefly balloon to introduce the sport to this middle-eastern country. Mohammed Al-Maqaleh, already known as the king of hang-gliding in Yemen, is keen on expanding his country's participation in airsports. After receiving training in Florence, Italy last month he purchased the balloon himself. Ideally he'd like to start a national airsports club, but needs government support to accomplish it.

The hot air balloon features a giant photo of Yemen's president, writing in English and Arabic, and Yemen's flag. Al-Maqaleh is convinced that airsports will attract tourism and entertainment opportunities.

He'll be flying solo until he's comfortable he's got the feel for it. “Ballooning is certainly spectacular,” he enthuses. “The views it offers are unique, and the prospect of looking down on the Old City of Sana’a or the green mountains of Ibb is mouth-watering.”

Read more in the Yemen Observer, find information on flight training or balloon manufacturers, get links to flight instructors or look up the type of national balloon associations Al-Maqaleh would like to establish. Here's hoping he succeeds. If you're planning a trip, here's a few places offering balloon rides in asia.

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