If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again are words that Tim Borden apparently lives by, because after an incident thwarted his Guinness World Record attempt back in 2019, this past weekend he finally succeeded in launching the world’s largest aerial firework ever, with a behemoth that weighed in at 2,797 pounds (1,269kg).
Borden’s previous attempt was made back on February 10, 2019, with a shell that was packed with 2,500 pounds (1,134kg) of pyrotechnic materials. It was supposed to be launched approximately a mile into the air where it would safely detonate its payload, but it instead exploded inside the mortar. But on February 8, 2020, atop Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Borden’s second attempt was a complete success. A custom-built, 26-foot (8 metre) long mortar launched the record-breaking 62-inch (1.57 metre) shell 1.6km into the air where the spectacular explosion momentarily turned the city from night time into a particularly apocalyptic sort of day time.
Previous Guinness World Records for aerial fireworks have been set in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. The latter country is where the most recent record holder, a 2,397 pound (1,087kg) shell, was successfully launched as part of New Year’s celebrations back in January of 2018.
Without seeing it in person, it’s hard to fathom the scale of this achievement; watching the gigantic starburst on YouTube just can’t compare to having experienced it in real life. But the shell itself measured in at just over five-feet across, which is almost incomprehensibly massive. And its 2,797-pound (1,269 kg) weight puts it about three pounds lighter than a Toyota Corolla. Imagine the explosives needed to launch a Toyota a mile straight up into the air. The explosion from jus the shell launch alone was probably louder and more impressive than the fireworks displays most small towns put on for the Fourth of July.