An eight-year-old boy from north Georgia became the youngest person ever to solo pilot a hot air balloon. The young boy, JT Head, completed his record-setting 20-minute flight July 10 by soaring 400 feet for a mile and half over the Sautee Valley near Helen.

The fourth grader learned to fly from his dad, Tarp Head, who has been piloting balloons for four decades, local TV station 11 Alive reported.

“My dad owns a hot-air balloon company, so I got really interested in hot-air balloons, and so I decided that I wanted to do a solo flight one day,” JT told the local media station. His father also spoke to the station, saying: "He’s done quite a bit of preparation for years." Tarp added JT had practiced flying a remote-control model before he took off alone.

"You have to be really prepared!" exclaimed Tarp. "'Cause you have to know what all the handles and buttons do, like some turn on the propane tank and some turn on the burner."

Speaking about the flight and the chance to see things from a new angle, JT said, “I saw the sun setting. I saw a lot of cows… My favorite thing was probably seeing the back of Yonah Mountain.”

JT broke the record of Bobby Bradley, who had set it in 2011 in New Mexico when he was nine. JT called Bradley immediately after he made the landing.

“When I was 4, I said that I would beat his record,” JT told 11 Alive.

Bradley penned a message for the new record-holder, Tarp said. “(Bobby) wrote JT a note and said, ‘Well, you did it. You told me you would do it, and you — I guess you’ve done it now’.”

Hot Air Balloon
Representational image. Getty Images/ KHALED DESOUKI