Nine-Year-Old To Solo Balloon

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A nine-year-old New Mexico boy is preparing to become the youngest ever to solo a hot air balloon. Bobby Bradley, son of renowned balloonists Troy and Tami Bradley, of Albuquerque, will fly a balloon classified as an ultralight, and therefore has no minimum age requirement for solo flight. The Bradleys insist this is all Bobby's idea and they wouldn't let him fly if they didn't think he was ready. "Like I tell everyone, it's not rocket science," Troy Bradley told The Associated Press. "You heat the air. You let the balloon go up. You let it cool and come down. It's learning to do it with some precision, and that's the amazing thing, he has such a great feel for it. He's got the ability so why not allow him to do it?" Bobby is equally confident in his ability.

He told the AP he's been flying for five years and has accumulated about 25 hours of dual with his father in a standard balloon. "I've been flying since I was 4, so I've had a lot of time to train and I've always wanted to solo," he said. The family is building the special lightweight balloon and gondola he'll fly. It will have a 32,000-cubic-foot envelope. Bobby will fly it tethered to get the feel of it before doing his solo flight.