Kirby Chambliss switched chicanes for hot air balloons in a novel and eye-catching display to mark National Hot Air Balloon Day.
Some 99 years after Indianapolis Motor Speedway held its first event, a hot air balloon race, the Red Bull Air Race pilot commemorated the anniversary in some style. Here is all you need to know:
– The display was put on from his Phoenix, Arizona, home – he has a runway in his back garden – with a series of hot air balloons set up on the ground akin to pylons for him to weave through.
– The American pilot then took to the skies as the balloons were released and showed some of the aerobatic skills, which have made him one of the world’s leading pilots by swerving in, out and above the balloons.
– Of the venture, he said: “The reason we did it is because the up-and-coming race in the United States will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the very first event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a hot air balloon race. Weaving back and forth between the balloons is a bit different than doing that around our pylons because the balloons are quite a bit wider, and you can’t hit the balloons!”
– Chambliss currently lies eighth in the Red Bull Air Race Championship with a podium finish in the opening round in Abu Dhabi.
– He will compete on American soil, where he is a two-time race winner, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 6-7 for its round of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
– The 58-year-old is a two-time world champion in the series having been crowned in both 2004 and 2006. He also boasts 10 race victories.
– Growing up, he was a motocross rider but always dreamt of being a pilot and, aged 24, became the youngest ever commercial pilot for Southwest Airlines. Four years later, he was a captain. He fuelled aircraft growing up to earn enough money to fly himself.
– He is married to a fellow pilot, Kellie, and lives on a ranch aptly named Flying Crown Ranch.