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New Zealander Aims to Fly High for Kids

UNICEF NZ (UN Children’s Fund)
Media Release
9 December 2013

New Zealander Aims to Fly High for Kids

A young Kiwi is set to embark on an overland hot air ballooning journey through more than 100 countries. Spanning more than four years, Andrew Parker and his team aim to use the adventure to create awareness of all children’s right to education, while also raising funds for UNICEF’s work.

Mr. Parker, a commercial hot air balloon pilot and entrepreneur, and UNICEF NZ launched the ‘Flying High for Kids World Balloon Project’ on 9 December 2013, at Balmoral School in Auckland. The balloon, featuring its brightly coloured UNICEF branding, was tethered in the school’s grounds.

Students at Balmoral School have created postcards about their life in New Zealand which Mr. Parker intends to deliver to children in another country during the balloon’s journey around the world. Over that time the team hopes to visit over 200 schools and meet more than 80,000 school children.

The balloon is set to leave New Zealand on 25 January 2014, heading first to Australia. Mr. Parker and his two person team will then spend the next four years driving overland and flying the balloon in many locations around the world, taking in the spectacular high mountain passes of Central Asia, the jungles of Africa and South America, the plains of Mongolia, the Australian outback, and finishing in Chile in 2017.
Andrew Parker, said “I had the idea of flying for a cause back in my early teens and it has stayed with me ever since. In 2010, I first approached UNICEF with my proposal and the last three years have seen my dream slowly turn into a reality.
“I’ve flown balloons in many countries but I’ve never had the chance to do something on this scale. Many of the kids we’ll meet won’t have seen a hot air balloon before! I’m also very happy to be supporting UNICEF. As a global charity helping kids to access education all over the world, it is the perfect organization to partner with for this project.”
Mr. Parker’s aim is to raise over US$1,000,000 for UNICEF through public donations and business partnerships. Throughout the project, the Flying High for Kids Team will be able to witness UNICEF’s work first hand.

Dennis McKinlay, Executive Director at UNICEF NZ, said, “Apart from being an exciting project, this is also a unique opportunity to connect children all around the world. The postcards created by Balmoral school will soon belong to other kids far from here.

“It’s our hope that lots of schools along the way will join in and share their lives with each other, especially as the kids will be able to follow Andrew’s adventures on his blog and Facebook page.

“‘Flying High for Kids’ also aims to highlight the importance of education for every child. Many kids throughout the world don’t get the chance to go to school, even though we know that education is a powerful tool for lifting them, their families and communities out of poverty.

“Funds raised from this project will help UNICEF to continue our work in helping more kids to access education. All at UNICEF are very grateful for Andrew and the team’s support and wish them well on their travels.”

- ends-
Notes to editors:

To follow the team’s progress around the world:

• ‘Like’ their Facebook page
• Or read Andrew’s blog

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

More about Flying High for Kids Project

Andrew Parker’s biog: Thirty year-old New Zealand commercial hot air balloon pilot and entrepreneur Andrew Parker is the Project Director and visionary behind the Flying High For Kids Project.
Born and bred in Hamilton, New Zealand, Andrew has had a fascination for hot air balloons since he was six years old.
He joined the Waikato Hot Air Balloon Club when he was 13 and started flying at 16, crewing for balloonists to gain as much knowledge and experience as he could. After leaving school, he went on to become New Zealand’s youngest commercial hot air balloon pilot, passing his Pilot’s Licence at the age of 19 while living in Australia and flying balloons in Alice Springs.
Keen to spread his wings – literally - he went to Europe to gain more international flying experience and learn about the business side of operations. Just after his 20th birthday, he was offered the chance to buy his mentor’s business, Kiwi Balloon Company, in Hamilton. It was a big leap of faith but with strong family support he took on the challenge and over the next six years became a highly successful tourism operator.
Andrew continued to split his time between New Zealand and Europe flying balloons until he sold his business in 2009 to travel and pursue bigger challenges. For the past four years he has lived and travelled extensively through Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australasia, piloting balloons in 16 countries, including China, Russia, Brazil and two of the world’s most famous hot air balloon locations – Göreme, Turkey, and the Dordogne Valley in France.
About the team and their roles: Dozens of volunteers will be helping Andrew with the project. No more than three people will be travelling in the truck at any one time. These people will change as the project travels around the world, and will help with driving, maintenance, setting up the balloon and day-to-day organisation.
As well as UNICEF offices helping with logistics and direction, many more locals will be helping. These people will give logistics advice such as road access, suitable places to fly and border crossing information.
About the balloon: The balloon has been made in the Czech Republic by Kubicek Balloons. The volume of the balloon is 2000cu/m and stands around 9 storeys high. The balloon can carry a maximum of 3 people. Andrew will be the main pilot of the balloon during the project.
The balloon will be transported by a truck which has been purpose-built for the Flying High For Kids Project. It is a 4WD 7.5t truck which will provide accommodation for the team and storage space for the balloon.

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