BMX rider performs tricks on ‘surreal’ floating skatepark 2,000 feet up

Kriss Kyle thought of the idea whilst out mountain biking with his dogs during lockdown.
Kriss Kyle thought of the idea whilst out mountain biking with his dogs during lockdown.

A British BMX rider has spoken of completing a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” after he performed tricks on a floating skatepark more than 2,000 feet (610 metres) above the ground.

Kriss Kyle completed the world-first stunt, called Don’t Look Down, on February 6 when he rode around a custom-made bowl suspended by a hot air balloon.

The balloon set off from Charlton Park Estate in Wiltshire and flew about 30 miles over the Cotswolds before touching down.

Kyle executed several highly technical BMX tricks in the short time window, and achieved the feat while wearing a parachute and contending with a constantly swinging bowl.

The 31-year-old Scot, from Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway, has competed in professional BMX events since 2008 and is an athlete for Red Bull.

Speaking at the launch event at Red Bull Racing Headquarters in Buckinghamshire, Kyle told the PA news agency: “I went straight to the edge, looked over and thought, ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.’

“All through riding that little bike, I was like, ‘This is one that I’ll be taking to the grave.’ (It was) a surreal experience and (I’m) just super fortunate for it, and I can’t believe I’ve done it.”

BMX athlete Kriss Kyle, sat on his bike and wearing a helmet, stood in front of a large hot air balloon
Kriss Kyle described being inside the bowl mid-flight as a ‘surreal experience’ (Red Bull/PA)

Kyle said the idea of a floating skatepark came to him whilst out mountain biking with his dogs in lockdown, before he pitched the idea to his manager at Red Bull.

He added: “This was pretty much the same as I go into every project – if you want it bad enough, just keep visualising it and sure enough you can turn that into a reality.

“No one’s ever really done anything like this, and it’s a big bit of kit. It’s actually registered as an aircraft, which is insane.”

Very specific climatic conditions, including wind speeds of less than three miles per hour, were required to make the flight possible, meaning Kyle had to do his fair share of weather watching.

He said: “I had a year of stand-by waiting for this weather window to come around, so every night I was visualising what it would be like.”

A BMX Athlete performs rides around a floating skatepark suspended 2,100 feet in the air by a large hot air balloon.
Kriss Kyle performing a stunt in mid-air (Red Bull[/PA)

Engineers at Red Bull Racing needed to manufacture the bowl with less conventional materials, in order to make it lighter and buoyant enough to float at 1.6 tonnes.

Rob Gray, technical director of Red Bull Advanced Technologies, said: “The original wooden bowl was a sort of prototype – they built that bowl to check Kriss could ride it and to define the shape that they wanted.

“The whole focus for us really was on getting the weight down. To do that we used carbon fibre, which is the same material we make the Formula One cars out of.”

Having been involved in previous high-profile projects including Kaleidoscope and Out of Season, Kyle said his latest project was “definitely up there” as one of his best, adding: “It’s been an incredible experience from start to finish.”

He said that filming for his next stunt, which will take place in Switzerland, was due to begin in October.