June 20, 2011

Youngest Pilot Bobby Bradley

Today’s story is a bit controversial.  Readers of his story think it’s just over-ambitious parents performing a stunt.  But I think we can learn some things about reaching goals from it.

Bobby Bradley is 9 years old, and just piloted a hot air balloon all by himself!  That sets all kinds of records for amateur flying, and shows how families can band together to help each other reach their goals.    

His parents are both hot air balloon pilots, who have taken Bobby on lots of rides.  When he was just 3 years old, he’d peel his parent’s fingers off of the controls to try to fly the balloon himself.  With that  interest, his parents started to train him to do just that.  After logging 30+ hours piloting the aircraft with an instructor onboard, he was ready to go solo.  

But Aviation laws say that pilots must be 16 to get a pilot’s license.  Because Bobby was only 9, the family looked for a way to let him fly solo some other way.  They learned that if he was piloting a smaller aircraft, he wasn’t bound to these strict rules.  So his Grandma sewed him a smaller balloon and the family found a smaller engine.  They built him a Hot Air balloon that met the size limits to be exempt from these regulations because it’s considered an ‘ultra light aircraft.’  

On Saturday, June 4, 2011, Bobby took off shortly after 7 am along with three other balloons.  (One was specifically designated to follow Bobby and make sure he was safe.)  After 26 minutes in the air, Bobby landed in his designated spot along a remote dirt road, just as he had been instructed.  He said, “I didn’t want to land.  I wanted to keep going.  It’s fun out there.”  His friends doused him in non-alcoholic champagne and silly string as he landed.  

Kids like Bobby, with a families’ support, can do amazing things.  It’s a great blessing to have a supportive family.

Calsuing, Jeri.  Associated Press. “New Mexico boy, 9, becomes youngest to solo in balloon”  Gwinnett Daily Post Sunday June 5, 2011, page 2A.

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