8-year-old boy becomes youngest person ever to solo pilot hot-air balloon
He can’t drive yet, but he sure can fly.
An 8-year-old boy from north Georgia has become the youngest person ever to solo pilot a hot-air balloon.
JT Head took his record-setting 20-minute flight on July 10, soaring 400 feet for a mile and half over the Sautee Valley near Helen, local TV station 11 Alive reported.
JT, a fourth grader who is now 9, learned to fly from his dad, Tarp Head, who has been piloting balloons for four decades.
“My dad owns a hot-air balloon company, so I got really interested in hot-air balloons, and so I decided that I wanted to do a solo flight one day,” JT told the station.
“He’s done quite a bit of preparation for years,” Head said, adding JT had practiced flying a remote-control model before he took off alone.
During the flight, JT had the chance to see ordinary things in a new way: “I saw the sun setting. I saw a lot of cows…,” he told the news outlet. “My favorite thing was probably seeing the back of Yonah Mountain.”
After landing, JT called Bobby Bradley, who broke the record when he was 9 in 2011. Bradley made his flight in New Mexico.
“When I was 4, I said that I would beat his record,” JT told 11 Alive.
And Bradley penned a message for the new record-holder, Head said. “(Bobby) wrote JT a note and said, ‘Well, you did it. You told me you would do it, and you — I guess you’ve done it now’.”
TJ promises to keep flying and “go even higher.”