Lunatic does BMX stunts in airborne skate bowl at 2,000 feet
Yes, an energy drink company is involved. BMX Pro Kriss Kyle – and that's a name for a BMX pro if ever we heard one – has starred in an epic video stunt, battling his own fear of heights to pull off sick tricks in a specially built bowl in the air.
Red Bull had to call on the engineering capabilities of its Formula One team to pull this insane gag off; the wooden skate bowl originally built for the shot was too heavy to lift into the air, at around six tons.
So composites experts from Red Bull Advanced Technologies – the tech division of the Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 team – stepped in to build a much more lightweight bowl out of carbon fiber. Still, this thing had to be big enough for some legit tricks, and even in carbon, the final prop weighed a lot. The exact figure seems to vary between sources; Red Bull says it weighed 1.7 tons, Kyle says it was 2.9 tons and Cameron Balloons says it was 2.8 tons and 3.9 tons within the same Facebook post. Either way, it was a lot to get off the ground!
There are helicopters that can carry that sort of load – indeed, a twin-rotor Chinook can carry up to 13 tons. But when Kyle tried skydiving out of a smaller helicopter, it was clear the downwash was going to make powered lift impossible. "It was like jumping into a tornado," he laughs.
So it'd have to be a balloon. And with that kind of weight to carry, not just any balloon. Cameron Balloons chimed in to build one of the biggest hot air balloons in operation. Six times the size of a standard hot air balloon, the Z-600 was designed to hang the skate bowl from the reinforced mouth of the balloon, for a wider and more stable platform.
More stable, at least, than the practice rig Kyle was using in the lead-up, which hung the bowl under a crane, where it swung around in all directions as he tried to ride, making for a nauseating experience. Add to that the fact that the carbon itself flexed as he rode on it, and a heavy parachute pack strapped to his back completely changed his balance and momentum as he tried to do tricks he'd done a thousand times before. "I almost had to learn how to ride again," says Kyle.
Things were much better once the final balloon was ready to go – the team inflated the balloon in a giant hangar and lifted up the bowl for a final test.
"We could only fly it six feet off the ground before the top of the balloon was touching the roof," says Kyle, "but it was the best it's ever felt. The bowl still moved, but nowhere near as much as what it did underneath the crane. Knowing that it didn’t move as much as what I’d been practicing on really put my mind at ease – I was saying ‘can we open the doors and fly it straight out?’"
No, they couldn't. A balloon this size and a load this heavy needs near-perfect conditions, so the team waited. And waited. And waited some more. Several aborted attempts notwithstanding, it took a full 11 months for the stars to align for this video. But when they did, Kyle and the team were ready to rock.
"Up at 2,000 ft (610 m), it was so peaceful," says Kyle. "I had a hit list of bangers I needed to tick off, including a fakie front flip and a kick off to ice pick on the handrail. The sun was in quite a bad spot at one point, especially when I did the front flip – the vert wall was in the shade and I couldn’t see it so it was like 180-ing into the dark. Up in the basket, they could feel it bouncing. My drone pilot said ‘I don’t know how you’re riding this because it’s moving up and down about four feet.’ You can’t see it in the footage because it looks like it’s stationary, but it’s moving so much."
The time and expense involved in creating a bonkers project like this was only possible because of the 11.5 billion-odd cans of Red Bull that are now sold annually. From its roots as Krating Daeng, a pick-me-up for truck drivers and manual laborers in Thailand, to its current status as a the world's most popular energy drink, Red Bull has consistently thrown its marketing dollars at some of the nuttiest extreme sports projects ever conceived. It's been a winning strategy, so it's sure to continue, and we look forward to seeing what comes next!
Enjoy Kyle's airborne shenanigans in the video below.
Source: Red Bull
Please keep comments to less than 150 words. No abusive material or spam will be published.
Large brass ones on that Kriss dude.