Since some adults are even scared to fly in a massive plane with a pilot, it’s truly incredible when a little one takes to the skies. This little 8-year-old boy managed to pilot a hot-air balloon all on his own, breaking a world record as he did!
Beating A Record At Just 8-Years-Old
J.T. Head, a fourth-grader from Georgia, does not fear any challenge. Especially those in the air! Incredibly, the young boy piloted a hot-air balloon for 20 minutes, all by himself, on July 10. Meanwhile, as he explored the spirit and saw the sights, Head also broke a world record. When he touched down, the fourth-grader had become the youngest person to pilot a hot-air balloon alone. It likely comes as no surprise that J.T.’s father, Tarp Head, owns a balloon company and has a lot of experience in the field. In the end, the nine-year-old flew 400 feet over Sautee Valley in Georgia.
“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,” J.T. said. Believe it or not, this is not a recent dream. In reality, J.T. has planned his flight for over five years now…
Congratulations On The Flight
When J.T. turned four, he first learned Bobby Bradley. Bradley, another young hot-air balloon specialist, previously held the record for the youngest balloon pilot. He took home the record in 2011, at the age of 10. In recent years, Bradley and J.T. have become friends, thanks to the power of the internet. So, as soon as the young boy touched down last week, he called to let Bradley know about his new record! The latter sent him a message and congratulated publicly online! “[Bobby] wrote J.T. a note,” Tarp recalled, “and said, ‘Well, you did it. You told me you would do it, and you – I guess you’ve done it now.'”
As you might imagine, J.T. spent years preparing for the flight with his dad. To beat the world record and pilot the hot-air balloon solo, he first used a computer simulator along with the remote-control balloon. Then, J.T. moved on to piloting real balloons with his dad. The rest, as they say, is history! Now, J.T. has started a path that makes his father beam with pride.
Piloting the Hot-Air Balloon
While the little one certainly looked prepared, there’s always a bit of nerves! “You have to be really prepared!” said his father. “Cause you have to know what all the handles and buttons do, like some turn on the propane tank and some turn on the burner…He was prepared for it, he was mentally ready for it, the weather cooperated and we were like okay let’s do this today.”
In addition to setting the records, J.T. also loved the views from way up high! “I saw the sun setting. I saw a lot of cows,” he recalled. “My favorite thing was probably seeing the back of Yonah Mountain…It was really smooth, I knew that I had to burn some before I just let it go and hit, so I burned some and then I landed.” Of course, a young, ambitious boy like J.T. has plenty more incredible dreams! “Probably play pro-league soccer,” he said with a smile. “I might fly more balloons. I know that I’m gonna go higher.”