Bobby Bradley started training to be a hot air balloon pilot at just four years-old. As a toddler, he’d been afraid of the heat and noise of the burners as he watched his dad, Troy Bradley, get ready for flights, but as soon as his father started taking him on trips, Bobby began asking about flying solo. Now nine years-old, he recently became the world youngest balloon pilot, taking up an ultralight-type balloon he and his father built for the purpose high above the New Mexico desert south of Albuquerque.
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. Bobby 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.
Bobby has accompanied Troy on trips all over the world, including Turkey, Japan and Belgium. As well as ballooning Bobby lists his interests as chess, basketball, guitar and math. He is looking forward to starting the 4th grade and when he’s grown up he hopes to become a professional pilot, just like his dad.