HONG KONG (BNS): In an effort to bridge the ‘’gap’’ between China and Taiwan, aeronauts will carry out a hot air balloon expedition covering the Taiwan Strait.
The first-ever flight is expected to take off in July or August next year, China's People's Daily quoted an expert as saying. The expert, identified as Du Jin'en, secretary general of the Aero Sports Federation of Fujian province, told Xinhua that a lot of talk has gone into organising the landmark event.
Du said discussions have been going on since 1999, but final plans were formalised only last year. The success of the event would depend on a number of factors including the weather conditions. The hostilities between the two sides have prevented people from coming together.The event would help in warming cross-Strait relations, he added.
According to the flying expedition plan, the hot air balloon would take off from a site between Yunlin and Taoyun in western Taiwan. Its destination would be a place between Chongwu and Fuging in Fentral Fujian on the mainland. The journey is expected to be completed in three to four hours depending on wind conditions. If the winds are not favourable, the journey could stretch to seven hours.
The balloon would be piloted by two aeronauts – one from the mainland and the other from Taiwan. A third person could be accommodated as a passenger, Du said. The programme was conceived by the Taipei Hot Air Balloon Association.
Besides bringing Taiwan and China closer, the expedition would also achieve a flying milestone. Never before has a hot air balloon with a human pilot crossed the Strait which is a 180 km wide passage. Its narrowest part is 135 km wide and most of it is less than 100 m deep.