SAN JUAN – An aerostatic balloon that takes off from a higher point above sea level than any other in the world, at an altitude of 3,698 feet (1,128 meters), and the first to be fitted with a lightning rod, is scheduled to make its inaugural flight Saturday in Puerto Rico.
The Puerto Rican municipality of Jayuya on the island’s central mountain range will be the scene where its first flight takes off.
The balloon’s platform is within the Rural Tourism Project of Tierra Alta, where a funicular railway was originally going to be built until Jayuya Mayor Jorge Otero opted for the high flyer.
The balloon uses helium as its lifting gas, measures 100 feet (around 30 meters) in diameter and is therefore one of the biggest aerostats in the world, according to its promoters.
The high flyer is painted the colors of the Jayuya flag – white, green and red, and is decorated with the Taino Indian sun.
It can carry between 20 and 30 people, and its platform is located on the Cerro Cumbre Alta peak, at 3,200 feet (976 meters) above sea level, the first to be anchored on a mountain.
Flight time will be between 11 and 15 minutes, and the balloon will fly more than 500 feet (152 meters) high.