J.T. Head III - world's youngest person to solo pilot a hot air balloon

On July 10, 2020, J.T. Head III solo piloted his one man hot air balloon into the record books.
He was 8 years old at the time, making him the youngest person to ever solo pilot a hot air balloon.


He flew for 20 minutes above the beautiful Sautee Valley in north Georgia. He reached a maximum altitude of 400-500 feet above the ground before making a perfect landing.


JT has been flying with his father (Tarp Head) and mother (Desiree Reddick Head) since he was born. He took his first flight when he was just two weeks old. Since then, he has been in the air in a balloon many times. He began learning to operate a balloon several years before in preparation for his solo flight. His lessons began by being by simply being exposed to flying in a balloon. He progressed to learning all of the systems that make up the balloon and how to use them. Instructional flights and computer simulations were used to learn about the operation of the balloon. After becoming proficient on the balloon simulator, more actual hands on flight time in the balloon was the next step. After countless hours of both tether and free flight instruction from his father, mother and David Bristol, JT was ready to fly on his own.

The balloon was a special, one-man balloon that was built by David Bristol.  It is 24,500 cubic feet in volume.  It is legally operated under the FAA regulations for Ultralight Aircraft (CFR Part 103).

It was a perfect weather day. There were clear skies and extremely light winds. It was a great day for a solo flight. After tethering the balloon for 30 minuets, JT was confident and released a rope holding him to the ground. A proud mother, father and friends were on the ground cheering him on and giving him moral support. He slowly drifted down the valley carried on light winds. He climb up to approximately 400-500 feet and had a nice view of the Sautee valley and the surrounding Blue Ridge mountains. After around 20 minutes, JT piloted the balloon back to the ground. He very gently touch down in a beautiful pasture as the sun was setting.

JT was very happy for his accomplishment and was ready to go again - which he did the following day.

                                                                                                                                              David Bristol - friend, builder and instructor


There are numerous great videos and news articles about the flight, as well as interviews with JT.
Here are links to a few of them:









JT was recognized by Balloon Federation of American for his accomplishment. 
Don Edwards (past President of the BFA) presented JT with a BFA special award.



  Balloon Federation of America