The Owl special-shape hot-air balloon idea, came from Mr Maco Oiwa who wanted to highlight the fact, that in Japan this huge and beautifully feathered creature is endangered due to a restriction of its natural habitat and its staple diet, the river fish of the Hokkaido region. This inventive campaign raises awareness and is a powerful way to capture thoughts and imagination as the photographs of the20 metre balloon being tethered and flown are spread through the news and social media.
Maco Oiwa is a very experienced pilot, who usually flies Cameron Balloon built equipment and with our Cameron Balloons Japanese Representative, Mr Sabu Ichiyoshi, he has held hot-air balloon world records, flying for an amazing 41hours and 29minuites - AX-10 duration, as well as competing in long distance gas balloon races. Mr Oiwa is also currently also involved with running and organising international balloon competitions.
(AX-10 - is a class of hot-air balloon, of size 140,000 cu.ft and above)
The aim of the balloon's publicity campaign is simply to bring the plight of this amazing bird of prey to the forefront of everyone’s mind with the hope that conservation groups and the public can work together to create a safe environment, which will lead, it is hoped, to an increase of numbers and a larger, healthier population of these birds of prey.
This iconic bird is known as the ‘Philosopher of the Forest’ with wingspans of up to 1 metre 80cms and in Japan it is known as Shima-Fukuro or Fish Owl.
Lastly, just for fun, if the Owl balloon was real, it would need to catch a 5.8metre long fish for its supper and if the balloon were to outstretch its wings to fly, the wingspan would need to be over 30metres from tip-to-tip to be in realistic proportions…. !
We wish Maco great success with his appeal to protect this rare raptor and look forward to seeing the Owl balloon flying in the local balloon meetings that they have in the Hokkaido region in mid-winter and in the summer.