Centennial of Philippines Dream to the Sky

Its Mars and Baldwin Day!

The International Hot Air Balloon Festival, now on its 16th year, is an attempt to re-start and continue the tradition started 100 years ago, where the first flight on Philippine soil took place.

The first airplane in the Philippines was christened "Skylark", a Red Devil biplane developed by Capt. Thomas S. Baldwin, a famous balloonist during the Manila Carnival.

It was not the first flight in Asia however as the Philippines was beaten by Vietnam by a matter of days, but its carnival was truly dubbed as the "Greatest Annual event in the orient".

The plane arrived on February 11. It was flown by Bud Mars A.K.A. James C. Mars at the opening ceremony of the festival as flight demonstrations for the Governor General. The Carnival then was held on the 21st to 28th day of February.

Mars was part of the Pacific exhibition tour organized by Captain Thomas Baldwin, who also made an exhibition flight on the same day after Mars did, in his Baldwin Red Devil biplane.

But it was Baldwin who made the first cross-country flight in the Philippines six days later, when on Feb. 27, 1911, he flew 10 miles out of Manila in his Red Devil biplane.

In 1910 Baldwin built his own airplane, the first to feature a all-steel framework rather than wood, and called it the "Red Devil." It was powered by a 60 horsepower Hall-Scott engine, to distinguished it from the Curtiss.

In a fitting tribute to the festival, Baldwin made his first balloon ascent in 1875 and spent the next 10 years performing in balloons at thousands of shows and fairs across the United States. he made, on January 30, 1885 one of the first parachute jumps from a balloon recorded in aviation history. He made many more jumps, becoming known as "The Father of the Modern Parachute."

The Baldwin exhibition team came from Hawaii on board a steamboat with two planes each in stow. They arrived in the Philippines on February 11th and tested the Philippine skies on the 13th before they flew to the general public on the 21st of February.

Before Baldwin left the country for Japan, he sold one of their airplanes to a flight school in the Philippines. (Special Thanks to Roy Mize)

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