Youngest Balloon Fiesta pilot is 5th generation balloonist


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – At just 16 years old, Savannah Bradley got her balloon pilot certification before she even got her driver’s license.

The Albuquerque Academy junior love the skies, especially from the view of her balloon “7th Heaven.”

“It’s beautiful up there,” she said. “It’s un-describable. It’s amazing.”

At such a young age, Bradley will be the youngest pilot at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta this year. She’s eager for her first mass ascension, but also feels a bit jittery about it.

“It feels pretty good,” she said. “Pretty nerve-wracking because I know there’s some eyes on me.”

Bradley’s first balloon flight was at just five months old, her parents tell KRQE News 13. Since then, she’s been a member of chase crews and helped out the Rainbow Ryders group.

Then, in January of this year, Bradley got her balloon pilot certification right when she turned 16 — before  even getting her driver’s license, which came in May.

None of this should be surprising, though.

“I’ve been around ballooning all my life,” she said. “So it’s kind of, it’s a second nature-type thing to me.”

Bradley comes from a long line of balloonists. Her great-grandparents, grandparents and parents all fly; making her a 5th generation pilot.

Her dad, Troy Bradley, has 60-plus world records under his belt, including a flight across the Pacific Ocean last year.

It’s a lot to live up to for Bradley. For now, though, she’s focused on her first milestone as a new pilot: Fiesta.

“I’m excited,” she said.

Bradley will be launching from site L10 during Fiesta with her co-pilot Erin Bair, who is a 20-year-old 3rd generation pilot. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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