by Atiqah Khairudin
Good morning! Less than three weeks to go! I have been having Life On Air religiously on my mind for the past few months. I guess it is normal to feel nervous as the date gets nearer.
For my first entry, I would like to generally explain how the idea for Life On Air emerged!
It initially started when Izzati and I were doing our balloon training in Spain. Our kamikaze instructor Angel Aguirre, who owns a commercial hot air balloon company Kon-tiki, would let us follow him on weekends to either fly or crew whenever he has passengers to fly.
We made a very wise choice of accepting that invitation as we were able to travel to many places around Catalunya including Costa Brava (by the beach), Pyrenees (over mountains), and Manressa (town). From these experiences, we realised that there must be awesome places to discover in our own country as well!
We have been brought up in Kuala Lumpur all our lives. Unfortunately the capital of Malaysia is “un-flyable”. The lack of flatlands was unsuitable for balloons but eventually our thirst was compensated by our opportunity to fly in Putrajaya, especially during our Fiesta.
Since then, we could not stop talking about discovering other states in Peninsular Malaysia. Over time, our conversations got more serious and we started to research everything in depth. I have also started to talk about the idea with people around me, especially with the team members and my husband. And when you start to jot down your to-do list, things will bound to materialise…!
With the team’s support and faith, we decided, for the second part of the year to mainly focus on, what is called now, Life On Air. Credits to Junita Hood who is our own Q (from James Bond) to come up with such a wicked name! Believe me, names as creative as this will never come from me haha.
We have divided it into two phases. 1st phase is the first 5 states ; Putrajaya, Terengganu, Pahang, Perak & Kelantan, while the 2nd is the remaining 4 states ; Perlis, Kedah, Johor & Melaka. This is because the timeline is stretched to two months.
For each destination, we will spend 4 days. First day, is our arrival and site recce. Second day, we are going to primary schools (both government and international) and high schools to host balloon workshops! The goal is to increase awareness among the young generation about hot air balloon’s existence and mechanism.
This idea came about because over the number of conversation we had with other balloonists from all over the world, the one thing they share in common is the interest started when they were young and they used to see hot air balloons flying in their hometown. They used to chase these balloons with their cute bicycles for fun and the rest is history.
Third day is where the fun part is, personally! We will find a spot & fly, well not really. Actually we have decided where we will roughly take off because we need to get approval from DCA beforehand. The initial goal is to really discover the states from bird’s eye view. To make it more meaningful and fulfilling, credits to Adam Engku, he sparked the idea to fly local guests & interview them, automatically becoming our own flying guide. How awesome is that!
The next day, is packing up and departing to the next location. So pretty much, this is the itinerary for all locations. We will go on a tour for a week then come back to KL for a week to work in the office (cause you know, like Izzati mentioned, we still have a company to run) then repeat.
Since this humble expedition is fairly new, cash sponsorship has been rather difficult to secure. But earlier during the planning, regardless of cash, we have agreed to continue with this just by having enough in-kind sponsors to provide necessity items for our travel, like hotels & transport.
Alhamdulillah, Ford Ranger (Mavis Tan) & few hotels (Zenith Kuantan, De Vianna Kelantan, Putra Brasmana Perlis, Starcity Kedah & Grand Paragon Johor) have been positive about our journey. We will cherish & remember their contribution.