Hot Air Ballooning comes to Karnataka

Before Deccan Airsports’s brought its hot air balloon to Mangaluru, a rather laid back cosmopolitan city on the west coast of Karnataka, and Bengaluru, the capital city, the phrase "You're full of hot air" could have resulted in a fist fight for the insinuation it carried. Not anymore. People of the state are now fascinated with hot air, provided it’s in the balloon above them and not within them! Team Karnatka Today takes you for a ride….

Mangalurean promoted Deccan Airsports has introduced residents of this coastal city and the capital city of Bengaluru to the atmosphere above it, and they seem excited. Sheik Abdul Malik, an aerospace engineer with a Master's degree from the University of Bristol, England, is the CEO and founder of Deccan Airsports - his dream? Take all airsport activities to an international level under one umbrella. These include hot air balloons, gliders, sky diving, drones and para-motoring. Malik, having lived, studied and worked in the United Kingdom for five years, has gained considerable knowledge and first-hand experience in aviation. This inspired him to bring his skills and talents to India and pioneer air sports in India along with an elite team.

The company wants to create a platform to provide people an opportunity to experience the "sky and beyond". To this end, they organized a 12-day launch tour in four major cities in three states -- Mangaluru and Bengaluru in Karnataka, Kochi in Kerala, and Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. The test run on a tethered flight will allow investors a look into the viability of the project, public - the experience and company - case studies, the logistics and wherewithal to prepare the roadmap for the project. A lucky few in these cities enjoyed the panoramic view of their city from a height of 400ft to 500ft.

A hot air balloon is lighter than air aircraft and consists of a bag, called an envelope, which contains heated air. Suspended beneath is a gondola or wicker basket (in some long-distance or high-altitude balloons, a capsule), which carries passengers and (usually) a source of heat, in most cases an open flame. The heated air inside the envelope makes it buoyant since it has a lower density than the colder air outside the envelope. As with all aircraft, hot air balloons cannot fly beyond the atmosphere. Unlike gas balloons, the envelope does not have to be sealed at the bottom, since the air near the bottom of the envelope is at the same pressure as the surrounding air. In modern sport balloons the envelope is generally made from nylon fabric and the inlet of the balloon (closest to the burner flame) is made from a fire resistant material such as Nomex. Modern balloons have been made in all kinds of shapes, such as rocket ships and the shapes of various commercial products, though the traditional shape is used for most non-commercial, and many commercial, applications.

Deccan Airsports plans to make hot air ballooning a permanent adventure activity in these cities. They also plan to create awareness about its advertising potential. Hot Air Balloon rides aren’t commonplace in India yet, so Mangaluru and Bengaluru are privileged. The sports company claims that the pilots and crew are professionally trained and safety norms are strictly followed. The ride lasts around an hour and gives the passenger a panoramic view of this green city. While families might enjoy the lift, for honeymooning couples it is a magical moment. It must be on your bucket list of things to do in the days to come. India has more youth than senior citizens, and this segment is constantly seeking adventure. They are also prepared to pay for it from their rising disposable income.

Kishore Alva, Executive Director - Corporate Affairs at Adani Power Limited UPCL. Mangaluru was the chief guest for the Mangalore launch event and inaugurated the first hot air balloon flight in the city in March 2017. The Adani Group proudly supported the launch of Deccan Airsports with very little persuasion. In fact Alva announced during the Mangalore event that Adani would be the first corporate partner to Deccan Airsports and will continue to support its Aerial activities for the next 25 years. Alva also said that the Adani group is very passionate about such innovative ventures and will strive to embody Airsports into the corporate culture in India.

The launch in Mangaluru was also witnessed by MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, Congress Chief Whip in the Karnataka Legislative Council, Ivan D’Souza. Mangalore Member of the Karnataka legislative MLA JR Lobo, Kishore Alva- Executive Director of Adani Group, S M Rasheed- President, Beary’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, B Ibrahim- Former Rajya Sabha MP, among many others.

Sheik Abdul Malik, founder of the Company told Karnataka Today that Deccan Airsports envisages a new era of aviation in India and especially in Mangaluru. It is their ambition to provide a platform for all to experience the Sky and Beyond!. Elaborating he said that the hot air balloons would be operated by highly qualified pilots from Britain. The project was put together over a year and after a thorough market study. Malik believes that India has a promising future in civil aviation and by 2020 it will be a driving force for both pleasure and advertising. He said there are multiple benefits for the cities it which they operate from generating employment, to a boost for tourism and the economy through aerial advertising.

However Sheik Malik is not alone in this venture. He has a strong team of international experts and Aviation Consultants on board advising his company. He is also partnered by Abdul Salam (Malik’s dad) and Mohammed Nissar (Malik’s Uncle) who are both directors of the company. In addition to hot air ballooning, Deccan Airsports wants to introduce adventure sports such gliding, sky diving, para-motoring and Drone sports. Based on the market feedback and after finalising a location, the firm will introduce hot air ballooning in the first phase.

Possibly the balloons will take off once the monsoon weather clears up in the coastal districts. "Places like Dubai and Turkey have identified hot spots to launch balloon operations. Here we are looking at multiple 'hotspot' locations and viable spots for the launch," Malik said, pointing out that people were increasingly looking at taking up new and exciting adventure activities in their leisure time.

The company has already approached the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for a licence and is scouting 'hotspots' to launch their commercial flights. "We are looking at a September deadline for untethered commercial flight launch, by which time the DGCA approval should also come by," said Malik. The company also has an ongoing survey identifying best locations, economic feasibility/ viability and pricing.

In the UK, the person in command of the balloon must hold a valid private pilot licence issued by the civil aviation authority specifically for ballooning. Malik said he was excited at the prospects since India is the ninth largest civil aviation market in the world, with the potential of becoming the third largest market by 2020.

History of Hot air ballooning

Early on in history, unmanned hot air balloons were used in China. Zhuge Liang of the Shu Han kingdom, during the Three Kingdoms era (220–280 AD), used airborne lanterns for military signaling. These lanterns were known as Kongming lanterns. However, the first untethered manned hot air balloon flight was performed by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes on November 21, 1783, in Paris, France,in a balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers. The first hot-air balloon flown in the Americas was launched from the Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia on January 9, 1793 by the French aeronaut Jean Pierre Blanchard.

First manned flight

The brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier developed a hot air balloon in Annonay, Ardeche, France, and demonstrated it publicly on September 19, 1783, making an unmanned flight lasting 10 minutes. After experimenting with unmanned balloons and flights with animals, the first balloon flight with humans aboard, a tethered flight, was performed on or around October 15, 1783, by Jean-Francois pilatre de Rozier who made at least one tethered flight from the yard of the Reveillon workshop in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Later that same day, Pilatre de Rozier became the second human to ascend into the air, reaching an altitude of 26 m (85 ft), the length of the tether.[5][6] The first free flight with human passengers was made a few weeks later, on November 21, 1783.King Louis XVI had originally decreed that condemned criminals would be the first pilots, but de Rozier, along with Marquis François d'Arlandes, petitioned successfully for the honor.The first military use of a hot air balloon happened in 1794 during the battle of Fleurus, when the French used the balloon l'Entreprenant was used for observation.

Modern hot air balloons, the type that are being used by companies such as Deccan Airsports with an onboard heat source, were developed by Ed Yost, beginning during the 1950s; his work resulted in his first successful flight, on October 22, 1960. The first modern hot air balloon to be made in the United Kingdom (UK) was the Bristol Belle, built in 1967. Presently, hot air balloons are used primarily for recreation. Hot air balloons are able to fly to extremely high altitudes. On November 26, 2005 VijaypatSinghania set the world altitude record for highest hot air balloon flight, reaching 21,027 m (68,986 ft). He took off from downtown Mumbai, India, and landed 240 km (150 mi) south in Panchale. The previoḍus record of 19,811 m (64,997 ft) had been set by Per Lindstrand on June 6, 1988, in Plano, Texas.

What it means for Mangalureans..

Adventure sports from scuba diving to surfing to para gliding and hot air ballooning thrill, and for a young population, it fulfils that need. Indeed, better these thrills than the thrills generated by illegal substances, for these thrills teach and reach even as they bolster confidence. Mangaluru is a coastal city, a city of sun, sand and water that is just waking up to these opportunities and firms such as Deccan Airsports find themselves in the right place at the right time!



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