Darth Vader’s head flies over Canberra

During last weekend’s celebrations in Australia’s capital city, the dark masked visage of a familiar science-fiction villain rose over Canberra – to the delight of hundreds of onlookers.

Shaped like the black-helmeted cranium of the Star Wars saga’s chief antagonist, Darth Vader, the 26 metre high balloon has taken rides over a host of events all over the world, accompanied by a squad of loyal Stormtroopers.

It was crafted back in 2007 by a Belgian Star Wars fanatic and given the seal of approval by Lucas Films and George Lucas, the original creator of Star Wars.

A statement on the balloon’s official site read:

“As soon as we got Lucasfilm’s approval, we made contact with the world largest manufacturer of hot-air balloons, which specialized in special shapes and is based in the United Kingdom. A Darth Vader helmet replica was sent to their engineers to help them recreate every detail. A vectorial file representing the Vader helmet in 3D was also sent to the engineers.”

The weekend’s busy events, during which people from all over the country gathered to celebrate the city’s 100th birthday, saw a variety of balloon rides wowing spectators – including balloons in the shape of The Lion King’s central character, Simba, a turtle with a red baseball cap called Mr. Bup and a peacock.

The Darth Vader balloon is 69 feet wide and the estimated volume of its hot air capacity stands at around 100,000 cubic feet. It is piloted by balloon experts Benoit and Michel Lambert.

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