The largest paper balloon in the world flies through the sky of Spain

After a precise inflation process that lasted for more than 70 minutes, the world’s largest paper balloon flew again today, Friday, from the town of Betanzos (A Coruña), in northwestern Spain.

The tradition, which began 147 years ago, has been interrupted by restrictions, and although last Tuesday, Saint Roque’s day, he was unable to fly, as tradition dictates, the weather conditions allowed him to fly this morning.

Preparations began more than an hour before the launch, which took place at exactly 0:41 am (22:41 GMT) on Friday morning, with thousands of people in Plaza Erman García Navera.

As soon as it took off, the arena saw huge applause, followed by fireworks from the balloon itself once it surpassed the height of the church steeple.

The tradition of the Betanzos balloons was introduced by the saddler Claudino Pita in 1875. Since then, his family honors San Roque on his day every year.

The balloon, which is 25 meters high and 50 meters in circumference, was built manually by the Peta family, using 160 kilograms of paper, to form 16 long strips of paper, which are glued to a special mixture that Lucas Petta used to treat the leather in his work.

At the mouth of the balloon there is a wire basket that contains another of the mysteries of the balloon: a fire that burns with a wick of straw and oil, pushing the balloon up due to the difference in temperature “thanks to the wind”.

Foil balloons are a medieval tradition in this Spanish city. History books say that the invention of these airships dates back to the Chinese, and reached the West through Marco Polo, and it is assumed that one of his assistants was the one who transmitted Betanzos’s passion for paper balloons.

During the 19th century, the events and occasions that took place there, including the visit of King Ferdinand VII, were celebrated with the release of these balloons, until 1875.

Since then, except on a few occasions -mainly due to the Spanish Civil War-, the Peta family has continued this tradition.