HARDEMAN COUNTY, Tenn. — An Australian man traveled to Hardeman County to try to break a world record by jumping from a hot air balloon several thousand feet in the air.
Damien Rider, an ultra-endurance athlete, rode on top of the balloon as it climbed to a height of 7,500 feet above Whiteville, Tennessee on Friday morning. Video from the scene showed the balloon rise into the air before Rider jumped, deploying a parachute and landing safely.
At this time, it’s unclear if Rider broke the world record as that will have to be determined by Guinness World Records.
But Rider said his jump from 7,500 feet without oxygen was a record breaker. He’d originally planned to jump from 13,000 feet, but weight from the crew and equipment limited the balloon height.
“It was amazing,” said Rider. “I just wanted to show people how to reach new heights.”
A survivor of child abuse, Rider said he hopes the event will bring awareness to the issue and show kids that anything is possible.
Rider said he learned to skydive just for this event. He said he originally came to the Mid-South on a tour for his book, One Breath Meditation, when the COVID shutdowns hit last year. Then, he heard about this opportunity.
The stunt will help kick off the Bluff City Balloon Jamboree in Collierville, which opens with a private event for the families of children with special needs on Friday. Tickets for Saturday and Sunday’s events are already sold out.