Youngest solo hot-air balloon pilot: Bobby Bradley set world record (Video)
TOME, N.M., USA — Nine-year-old Bobby Bradley floated into history, taking off solo in a hot air balloon and landing perfectly about a half-hour later to become the youngest trained pilot to fly baloon solo.
Photo: Bobby Bradley, 9, of Albuquerque, N.M., is all smiles after landing his hot air balloon after taking a 26 minute solo flight near Tome, N.M.. Behind him in the tie-dyed shirts are his dad, Troy Bradley, and mother, Tami Bradley. Nine-year-old Bobby Bradley floated into history, taking off solo in a hot air balloon and landing perfectly about a half-hour later to become the youngest trained pilot to accomplish such a feat. Photo: AP (enlarge photo)
The Guinness world record for the youngest sports commentator is Zach Spedden (USA), who on 25 August 2002 called an entire nine inning baseball game aged 10 years 48 days.
Guinness World Records also recognized the world record for the Youngest person to visit the North Pole: Alicia Hempleman-Adams (UK; b. 8 November 1989) stood at the geographic North Pole at the age of 8 years 173 days. She flew to the pole to meet her father, the well-known adventurer David Hempleman-Adams (UK), at the end of his successful trek to the pole.
"It was awesome. It was amazing. I loved it," he said. "Absolutely perfect," is how his mother, Tami, described the landing.
His father, Troy Bradley, proudly remarked that his son "flew the way we knew he could."
"This was his idea," said Tami Bradley, his mother, in an interview with ABC News. "He started taking control of the burner when he was 4 years old."
Troy and Tami Bradley are both licensed balloonists, well known in the world of lighter-than-air fliers.
His parents said it was the culmination of nearly thirty hours of work. But while Bobby was in the balloon himself, his father Troy Bradley flew another balloon right alongside his son.
The entire flight lasted thirty minutes. After landing Bobby said the balloonist's prayer.
Upcoming events at the National Balloon Museum
• Saturday, July 30: Speaker Bobby Bradley, 1 p.m. Bradley, 9, the youngest solo balloon pilot of an ultra-light balloon, and his father, Troy, will be speaking on "Preparations and Adventures of Making Ballooning Records."
The boy took off to the cheers of more than 50 friends, family and classmates who gathered at 5 a.m. in Albuquerque to drive in a caravan to a remote field that was chosen for its lack of power lines and other potential hazards.
Takeoff came shortly before 7 a.m., along with three other balloons whose pilots included a designated balloon examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration and a balloonist who helped make Bradley's special ultra-light craft.
The boy's flight lasted 26 minutes. "I didn't want to land," he said afterward. "I wanted to keep going. It's fun out there."
Although his mother said she would not normally recommend that 9-year-olds fly solo, she said it was a natural progression for her son, who is "not your normal 9-year-old."
Bobby is a fourth-generation balloonist and has been flying in them for more than half his life, with his parents and some of the sport's most experienced and decorated pilots.
He has nearly 30 hours of flight time with his father in a standard hot air balloon.
But he can't get his pilot's license until he's 16, so his family and friends built the smaller balloon that is classified as an ultra-light aircraft to enable Saturday's solo flight.
Bobby's balloon has many added fixtures for safety - the burner has three instead of just one pilot light and is positioned to keep him out of danger during a rougher landing.
He also wears a helmet and is strapped into the basket to avoid any injuries if the wind suddenly becomes strong during a flight.
As most of the very few balloon accidents are power-line related, his parents take him out to the desert to enjoy worry-free flying.