Red Bull Pilot Celebrates Hot-Air Balloon Day


It might have escaped your notice that June 5 is officially National Hot-Air Balloon Day in the U.S., but Red Bull made the most of it, enlisting air-race pilot Kirby Chambliss to fly in and out of a row of four balloons as if they were race pylons. The flight took place at dawn, close to Chambliss’s home airfield in Phoenix, Arizona. After the balloons launched, Chambliss “got a bit more creative,” according to Red Bull, performing aerobatics above, around and between them. Flying around the balloons is different from flying around pylons, Chambliss says, “because you can’t hit the balloons.”

Chambliss and the rest of the Red Bull Air Race competitors will make their annual U.S. appearance on Oct. 6 and 7, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Speedway held its first-ever event on June 5 in 1909, hosting the launch of a hot-air balloon race. National Hot-Air Balloon Day marks the first public launch of a hot-air balloon, in June 1783, in Annonay, France. The unmanned aircraft, designed by Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier, rose to about 6,000 feet and flew for about 10 minutes.