Talk about watching that first step. In a recent publicity stunt, BMX Pro Kriss Kyle climbed off the edge of the gondola of a giant hot air balloon, 2000 feet above the English countryside, to ride his bike around a specially constructed “BMX Bowl.” The Red Bull athlete’s goal was to ride where nobody else had before—a feat made a bit more challenging because the skatepark was swaying in the wind. Oh, and Kyle has an acute fear of heights.
“Having to climb over the edge of the basket to get down to the skatepark underneath was such a crazy experience,” he said. “I’ve had to push past my fears several times before on Red Bull projects, but nothing has compared to this.”
But the event was more than just overcoming a fear of flying. It involved Red Bull commissioning U.K.-based Cameron Balloons to design and construct the world’s largest operational air balloon—six times larger than a typical hot-air balloon.
The BMX specialist, also a Red Bull athlete, worked with Red Bull Advanced Technologies—the technical arm of the Oracle Red Bull Racing Formula One Team—to design and build the BMX bowl.
The mini-skatepark has the same advanced composites as a Formula 1 car, while the team also needed to figure out aerodynamics since the 1.7-ton structure would be suspended 2000 feet in the air and susceptible to winds. “It’s been great to see this project come to life utilizing the same simulation and expertise we use in Formula One,” said Christian Horner, CEO of Oracle Red Bull Racing, safely from the ground.
Kyle, who wore a parachute, said the biggest challenge was the swing of the BMX bowl as he perched on a metal rail 2000 feet above the ground. “You’re so high up it almost doesn’t feel real anymore,” he said.
Though this ride required a few extra gulps of Red Bull for courage, Kyle has accomplished other dangerous feats in the past, from the “Dubai Drop,” where he jumped out of a helicopter on his bike and landed on the Burj Al Arab skyscraper, or the “One from Copenhagen” that featured him paragliding into the city on his bike.
What’s next? Maybe pedaling at supersonic speeds through the stratosphere after being dropped out of a rocket, or doing a space ride around the International Space Station?