Las Vegas Sun

April 22, 2018

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‘Upside-down’ hot-air balloon over Las Vegas turns heads


Courtesy of Jeanette Amalfitano

A group of hot-air balloons flies over the southwest valley Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, with the one on the right appearing upside down. It turns out the odd-looking balloon is designed to only appear as if it is inverted.

Jeanette Amalfitano thought she was witnessing a tragedy when she looked up this morning and noticed that among a group of hot-air balloons, one of them was upside down with the passenger basket poking up at the top.

“I thought something was wrong with the balloon,” Amalfitano said. “It looked like it was losing air.”

She wasn’t the only one who took notice. Pictures started popping up on Twitter and Facebook from people wondering what was going on.

It turns out the balloon, operated by Festo Corp., is designed to only appear as though it is floating upside down. The balloon, complete with inverted writing on it, actually has a concealed cabin at the bottom and an upside-down dummy cabin at the top.

Because of the unique design of the balloon, it is difficult for pilots to see, so a twin balloon — one that floats upright — is required to assist with guidance.

The balloon captures so much attention that the company warned Metro Police in advance they might get calls.

Festo, in Las Vegas for a trade show, will be flying balloons for about two hours each morning through Tuesday, according to a company news release. The balloons will be launched in the southwest valley, near Fort Apache and Post roads.

Amalfitano was driving her son to school this morning when she noticed the balloon and pulled over to snap a picture.

“I thought if someone lost their lives to this accident, at least the family would have some type of proof of what happened,” she said.

She was surprised to learn of the balloon’s special design.

“Oh my gosh,” she said. “That’s unbelievable. It’s a relief to hear that no one was hurt.”

Festo, an industrial control and automation company, is attending the Pack Expo trade show, an international processing and packaging convention hosted by the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. It is being staged Monday through Wednesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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