03/19/2018 9:50 AM
READINGTON, NJ --- By all accounts, David Smith Jr. is a big shot.
Known as “The Bullet,” David is heir to the throne of being the world’s most accomplished human cannonball, carrying on a great family tradition of being the highest and farthest flying cannonball of all time. From breaking the world distance record to blasting over incredible obstacles such as Ferris wheels, concert stages, even part of the Grand Canyon.
Next up: a world-record attempt by soaring over a hot air balloon when he performs at the 36th annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC Bank. The three-day Festival, July 27-28-29, 2018, is the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America.
“Before he even climbs down the barrel of his 34-foot-long cannon, David has a big net to fill,” said Festival Executive Producer Howard Freeman. “His sister, Jennifer “The Cannon Lady” Smith, has been the most popular attraction we’ve ever had. He has his sights set high as he’ll try to launch himself over a balloon.”
David just broke his own Guinness World Record by traveling 195 feet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on March 14, breaking his previous record of 193 feet 8 inches and that of his father (184’10). He goes from 0 to 60 mph in less than a second.
Yes, this family business is a blast. David Smith Sr. is a renowned human cannonball. He and his wife raised seven children and each one has been fired from a cannon. For David Jr., his career began out of necessity.
“One day my dad called and said he hurt his back and needed some recovery time,” said the younger Smith. “He needed me to take his place and perform in Madison, Wisconsin, in two days. They gave me a practice shot in the morning then I performed a live show at night. It was not really an option for me to say no to his request. I was 19 years old, terrified, nervous, and very excited.”
Over the next six months Junior continued shooting under the guidance of his father, a lifelong human cannonball whose worldwide performances included spending an entire summer being shot down Main Street USA at Disneyland.
The two Smiths traveled the country, performing in a different city most every day. Each day and performance, father passed something on to son. The cannon shots started to be a little farther than the day before.
The following year David Jr. took the cannon on tour. He perfected the set up of the landing net and learning exactly how to aim the cannon for different size shots and conditions. As David’s confidence and abilities grew, so did the size of the cannonball shots.
On May 29, 1998 in Kennywood Amusement Park in West Mifflin, PA, the two flying Smiths blasted their way into the Guinness Book of World Records on prime time television. David Jr. fired 181 feet 4 inches, breaking the old record of 180 feet. Then dad soared 184 feet 10 inches.
In 2011 David Jr. set two Guinness World Records: soaring 193 feet 8 inches in Italy to establish a then new distance record followed by soaring 77 feet 6 inches high at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The stages for these performances have been equally large: performing on the Vans Warped Tour, appearing with his father and sisters on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “The Today Show” before 15 million viewers. Discovery Channel specials and the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards soon followed. As did NASCAR; The Bullet fired before 144,000 people at the Coca-Cola 500 race.
For those attending this year’s balloon festival, the sky will be full of all sorts of colorful objects.
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