Red Bull Air Race pilot and airshow performer Kirby Chambliss switched pylons for hot air balloons to mark National Hot Air Balloon Day, June 5.
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 style.
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.
He 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.
“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,” Chambliss said. “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 is eighth in the Red Bull Air Race Championship with a podium finish in the opening round in Abu Dhabi.
He will compete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Oct. 6-7, 2018, 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 2004 and 2006. He also boasts 10 race victories.
Growing up, he was a motocross rider, but always dreamt of being a pilot. At 24, he 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.