MANILA — As the 22nd Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (PIHABF) kicked off their first day of “everything that flies” week, one of its main attractions this year, the Flying Circus Aerosuperbatics WingWalkers from the United Kingdom said Filipinos accorded them the “warmest welcome” they could ever wish for.
“Our experience here so far has been amazing. Everybody has been so friendly, so generous, so helpful,” the Flying Circus’ wingman pilot Martyn Carrington said.
WingWalkers Emily Guilding and Katie Hobbs echoed Carrington’s sentiments, noting their love for Filipino food and excitement for their act.
The six-man team composed of two mechanics, two pilots, and two wing walkers, which has performed at over 2,500 different events and watched by over six million spectators each year in the UK, is in Clark, Pampanga for a four-day performance at the aviation festival.
“The experience of the WingWalker team is a living testament of the hospitality of the Filipinos,” said Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Teo.
“For this year, they will be the highlight of the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta as we further push for the promotion of sports and adventure tourism,” she added.
The DOT has been one of the staunch partners of the hot air balloon event since its inception in 1994 and continues to support the longest-running sports aviation event in Asia.
The WingWalkers are performing a breathtaking sequence of acrobatic maneuvers and handstands while strapped to the top wings of the team’s Boeing Stearman biplanes.
“It is our first time to perform here in the Philippines and so we’re very, very excited. So we look forward to bringing the spectacle of wind walkers to the Filipinos,” WingWalker Hobb said.
“Definitely, drop of a hat, I would come back here for a holiday but obviously it’s great to bring the aircraft because people don’t really see them. So hopefully, the Filipino people will like our show and we will be able to come back again,” chief engineer and pilot David Barrel shared.
The Aerosuperbatics WingWalkers on Thursday (Feb. 8) took off around 7 a.m. and will continue until Feb. 11 for the PIHABF at the Omni Aviation Complex, Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga