Tel Aviv is about to join London, Paris, Hong Kong and some 50 other major cities which offer a bird’s eye view of the city from a hot air balloon.
The huge TLV Balloon, which landed in Israel earlier this week, is 23 meters (75 feet) in diameter and can reach a height of 120 meters (393 feet) off the ground. It can carry up to 30 people each time.
Because the balloon is defined as an aircraft for all intents and purposes, its operators are required to take a special pilot course approved by the Civil Aviation Authority. The course is taking place these days at the Yehoshua Gardens in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park, which is also the balloon’s landing spot.
A TLV Balloon ride is expected to cost NIS 75 (about $18.5) for adults, NIS 65 ($16) for Tel Aviv residents and NIS 50 ($12) for children. The 12-minute flight will include an aerial tour of the city with a pilot who will also provide short explanations about interesting spots on the way. Also planned is a visitor center which will explore the history of hot air balloons in Israel and around the world.
The project’s initiator, Adv. Ophir Miller, a partner in the Dr. Miller & Co. Law Firm and an expert in international negotiations, says that bringing the balloon to Israel was quite a difficult challenge. Apart from the significant financial investment, it was a long process which included qualification, maintenance and security checks.
“We wouldn’t have been able to complete this project in Israel without the help of Haim Ronen, the Yehoshua Gardens’ CEO, the Tel Aviv Municipality, the Civil Aviation Authority and various government ministries,” Miller says.