Tonight at the Latvian Expo 2010 (World’s Fair) pavilion: the flying Prime Minister

This evening I had the distinct honor of attending the opening of the Latvian Expo 2010 (World’s Fair) pavilion. It was a notable event for two reasons, in particular. First, the Latvian pavilion is the last of the stand-alone Expo 2010 pavilions to open (Expo opened on May 1); and second, and more important, the Latvian pavilion is built around something called an “Aerodium” – basically, a giant, vertical wind tunnel into which people – including, say, prime ministers – can be inserted for the purpose of levitating/flying. And so this evening, to his everlasting credit, Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, donned a flight suit and helmet, stepped into the Aerodium, and – to the obvious discomfort of his security detail – levitated/flew. Below, Dombrovskis’s flight as witnessed by the staff of Shanghai Scrap (that’s 39-year-old Dombrovskis in the middle).

Just to be clear: the Prime Minister is, in fact, a Prime Minister, and so the staff of the Latvian pavilion took extra care with his flight. But when it came time for the staff to take flight and show the full capabilities of the Aerodium, they didn’t hesitate at all. Photographic proof, after the page jump …

First, the staff showing inside of the Aerodium …

But it was only later, during the show that they’d specially prepared for the pavilion’s opening ceremonies, that the staff really opened up the throttle and showed just what the Aerodium is capable of doing. Below, an image of the pavilion; note that the two dots floating above it are men levitated by the Latvian designed and built Aerodium. Awesome.

Believe it or not, the Aerodium is available for civilian use. The pavilion has a sign-up computer that enters you into a random draw that entitles you to 30-minutes of training and a brief flight/levitation. What are the odds you’ll be selected? No idea. But this I can tell you: your faithful correspondent, Mr. Shanghai Scrap, has been offered, and has accepted, a flight in the Aerodium. We’ll be taking our new Latvian friends up on this generous offer in the coming days, and filing a complete report soon after.

In the meantime,  a quick note on the Latvian pavilion: it was designed and built in three months for €3.5 million (US$4.27) – or less than 10% of the cost of many of its neighboring pavilions in Europe and North America. To my way of thinking, that’s a serious credit to the Latvians. Even better, it’s flat-out beautiful (and so was this evening at the Expo).


  1. The night of opening was great!
    The flying in vertical wind tunnel is the most interesting and attractive thing in the whole Expo 2010!!!

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