Imposing Helium aeerostat turns out to be showstopper


New Delhi: The much-talked about huge helium aerostat balloon that cost Rs 70 crore turned out be a showstopper at the breathtaking opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games at the majestic Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here Sunday.

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There were fears about the functioning of the aerostat after the Indian capital witnessed its heaviest rains in decades. Critics also raised questions on the wisdom of the organisers in spending such a huge amount on a balloon. But on Sunday, it was the giant balloon that was the centre of attraction of the extravagant and the colourful show that swept the spectators off their feet.

As the clock struck seven and spectacular fireworks lit the sky to signal the start of the opening ceremony, the aerostat lifted up from the centre of the packed stadium with huge puppets attached to it. It dramatically went up from the main stage to 25 metres, spell-binding the 65,000 spectators.

For the next three-hour spectacle, not a single person at the stadium would loose sight of the balloon where images revolved, presenting India in all its grandeur.

Life-size revolving images of the action on the ground was projected on the helium balloon all along the ceremony while the moving lights continued to change their hues.

In a special effect, lights were programmed to bounce off mirrors on the aerostat while 500,000 watts of sound were used to add to the cheer of the 65,000 strong crowd at the venue, which held the opening ceremony of the 1982 Asian Games.

The aerostat, manufactured by Per Lindstrandt and designed by Merk Fsher is said to be the biggest helium balloon in the world. It was being used for the first time for an entertainment event. It was suspended 25 metres above the ground. It took days for the balloon sized 40 metresX80 metresX12 metres, to lift above the ground and be placed in a 360 degree projection surface.