U.S. boy becomes youngest solo balloonist

A nine-year-old boy in the U.S. has become the youngest person to fly a hot air balloon solo.

Bobby Bradley, from Albuquerque in the state of New Mexico, managed to take off and execute what has been called a ‘perfect’ landing, following a hot air balloon trip lasting almost 30 minutes.

He took off near Tome, New Mexico, at around 7:00 am. Three other balloons also took off nearby; pilots included an official balloon examiner from the Federal Aviation Administration and the balloonist who worked on putting together Bradley’s lightweight craft.

The takeoff site was a remote field chosen because it lacked power lines and a number of other potential hazards. A group of 50 people, composed of friends and family, came to cheer Bradley on.

Bradley has been ballooning for more than half his life and his parents are considered to be two of America’s most decorated and experienced pilots in the sport today.

While he has racked up almost 30 hours of flying with his father, Bradley won’t be able to get his pilot’s license until he is aged 16. He was able to go ahead with his record breaking solo flight because his balloon, specially crafted by friends and family, was classified as an ultra-light aircraft.

The balloon boasted a number of additional safety features. These included three pilot lights instead of one on the burner, which was strategically positioned to minimise risk in the event of an accident. The youngster also wore a helmet and was strapped into the basket.

Afterwards, Bradley said he didn’t want to land as the flight was so much fun.

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