At What Point Does A 'Firework' Constitute A Bomb?

Over the weekend, a Guinness World Record for largest aerial firework shell was launched and detonated in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Behold.

We don't want to bore you, but the tech specs on this thing are nuts. This thing was about 5'2" tall and weighed in at a record-breaking 2,797 pounds -- much of which is from the 60 miles of tape wrapping the thing. It was shot out of a tube buried 26 feet into the side of a mountain at around 300 miles an hour, which got this "firework" about half a mile into the air before actually detonating. To provide some context, "Little Boy," the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, weighed in at 9,700 pounds, and the general purpose bombs regularly deployed in WWII raids weighed 2000 lbs or less. A 300 mph launch would beat the takeoff speed of a 747 jet by at least 100 mph.

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What's absolutely crazy is that this has been in development for seven years. They were supposed to break the record last year, but the firework went off inside the tube before it could count for anything. That's a whole lot of time and dedication to any record, honestly.

So let's look at this objectively for a second. Fireworks, in general, are meant to explode away from people or property. That's why you go to Cousin Artie's farm for your July 4th party and then don't see him again until Christmas. This record-breaker had to be a good half-mile up in the air before it actually went off. Why? Because explosions hurt, man. Those bomb and jet comparisons up there aren't for nothing. If something had gone wrong, the sleepy little resort town of Steamboat Springs could've been down a couple of chair lifts, or worse.

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This was super cool to see video clips of, but we've gotta ask ourselves -- functionally, what's the difference between a record-breaking firework and a bomb? It's awesome that professionals are getting into this type of thing, but you have to worry about the Cousin Artie copycat types. I'm probably getting myself on some kind of watch list right now just writing about this. If this record attempt was happening in, say, Jacksonville, the FBI would probably be down there having a say in things. Although, you gotta admit, you wanna see how Floridians would tackle a project like this.