Sharing the same love for adventure, sisters, Atiqah Khairudin, 27, and Izzati Khairudin, 29, are the first Malaysian female hot-air balloon pilots. They began their hot air balloon expedition named, “Life on Air”, by visiting nine states in Peninsular Malaysia.
They started in Putrajaya on September 2 before heading to Terengganu two days later. Their balloon odyssey was divided into two phases.The first phase took them to Putrajaya, Terengganu, Pahang, Perak and Kelantan from September 2 to 27.
The second phase will commence in October beginning with Perlis, then Kedah, Johor and Melaka from October 4 till 22. In each state they will give a talk on hot-air balloons to selected primary schools. The objective is to create awareness in the young minds regarding the sport.
On Thursday, September 22, Ipoh Echo had the opportunity to meet the two pioneering sisters and their team, as they held their practical workshop at Tenby Schools, Ipoh. The workshop, which began in the morning, was a tricky one due to the windy conditions.
“Our late father owned AKA Balloon Sdn Bhd, so we’re exposed to hot-air balloons since we were small. We’re passing it on to the younger generation to inculcate awareness in them,” said Atiqah.
“It all began when we were doing our balloon training in Spain last year. Our instructor, Angel Aguirre, would let us follow him around. We were thrilled to have had the chance to do so. Going around Costa Brava, Pyrenees and Manresa, we thought we must discover our own country as well,” said Izzati.
And that was how the expedition began. Kindergarten kids up to primary school students crowded the field as they watched, for the very first time, a functional hot-air balloon.
“The biggest challenge when flying a hot-air balloon is the weather,” exclaimed Atiqah.
While Izzati and the rest of the team were working on the balloon, Atiqah explained the various parts of the airship.
A hot-air balloon is made up of three parts namely, the envelope, burner and basket. The envelope is the topmost part of a hot-air balloon. It is the actual fabric balloon which holds the air. The burner is what pushes the heat inside the envelope and the basket is where pilots and passengers stand.
One essential item every hot-air balloon must have is a fire extinguisher. Its movements are dependent on the wind. To get a pilot’s licence, one needs only to be 16 years and above.
At the end of the session, Atiqah quizzed the students and gave them some goodies. This scribe and Echo’s photographer were given a tethered ride. We got to see the breathtaking view of Ipoh 50m above ground level.