Category Archives: News

Pyro Boy visits Winterblast 2017

After a long period of silence, Pyro Boy stopped by Winterblast 2017 and made two appearances in Laka Havasu City, Arizona.

I have been attended Winterblast for years. I’ve done some really fun things like shoot off 2500 rockets at once, Help with a gasoline mortar firewall or show up as Pyro Boy as I have done in the past.

This time we did two shows to highlight some of the fun aspects of a very serious fireworks festival. Aaron Mayfield from AM Pyro did a fireworks show featuring shells you simply will not see by any other fireworks company. They make the shells themselves along with help from experienced amateur pyrotechnicians. This is something you simply do not see at almost any other festival.

AM Pyro Mortar Rack - Winterblast 2017

Davex showed up with a fire simulator he uses to teach fire extinguisher training.

Fire Extinguisher Training

In addition to serious and artistic fireworks, there’s another aspect to WPA Winterblast – frivolity and fun. There are several groups within the WPA that group together to create fun. Every year, the Jackalopes unite to do something rather over-the-top. This year it was girandolas and rockets.

Ken Cates with Rocket

I told Ken I was going to stand away from the rocket when it launched. He asked me if I was afraid of the rocket. I said no, I’m not afraid. I know what it’s going to do, so I’m going to stand far away!

Jackalope Mobile

Either the Jackalopes are dyslexic or I was standing in the wrong place.

If you have interest in learning more about fireworks or attending an event like Western Winterblast, check out

Pyro Boy on America’s Got Talent Extreme

It’s finally happening, the episode of America’s Got Talent Extreme featuring Pyro Boy will air June 16, 2015 on NBC.

This will be one of the most exciting appearances of Pyro Boy that has ever happened. This is a not-to-miss event. There was so many amazing things that happened, we can’t tell you because we know they can’t use it all in only one hour, so we have no idea what is going to happen. We simply advise you to tune into America’s Got Talent Extreme.

That’s not all.

Not only will you see an amazing performance by Pyro Boy, there’s Dr Danger crashing a school bus into a tower of school buses with passengers!

Dr Danger: americas got talent extreme: School bus

Pyro Boy feels you should tune in and watch this because it’s inspired people doing crazy stunts and you should not miss such a spectacle. We’re having fun, see it for yourself!

There are two viewing parties happening as well. One in Seattle, one in Oakland:

Star Brass Lounge
5813A Airport Way S,
Seattle, Washington 98108

Merchants Saloon
401 2nd Street
Oakland, CA 94607

pyro boy: americas got talent extreme: fireball

#AGTExtreme #AGT #pyroboy

Pyro Boy on America’s Got Talent

Wally Glenn will be appear on NBC’s America’s Got Talent as Pyro Boy on the Extreme Episode slated to air sometime in June, 2015.

This is one of the wildest versions of Pyro Boy ever seen. There is drama, wardrobe malfunctions and some things I never would have guessed would happen in my life.

You do not want to miss the full show.

Here’s a preview:

WPA at Maker Faire 2015

For the third year in a row, I represented the Western Pyrotechnic Association (WPA) at Makerfaire to discuss fireworks. Our booth was titled, “WPA – Learn to Hack Fireworks”.

The Western Pyrotechnic Association is a non-profit club which is open to hobbyists and professional pyrotechnicians alike. It exists to promote the fine art of fireworks in an engaging atmosphere to promote safe practices for building and manufacturing fireworks. WPA members are mostly living in the Western United States, although it has members from across North America.

At the WPA, people regularly build shells up to 16″ in size, which is unheard of in the typical fireworks displays. The WPA has been known to assemble up to 24″ shells which is one of the few places in the world you can see shells that large. The WPA has nightly public displays to showcase member shells and we have professional displays to delight our audiences. The WPA holds events in Lake Havasu City, Arizona and Hawthorne, Nevada.

Maker Faire is the largest DIY showcase in the US. Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.

wpa - makerfaire 2015 - 2

Our booth at Maker Faire is always packed with people who want to know more about making fireworks. We are happy to explain how shells are made, how to fire a show and we have examples of inert shells, diagrams of rockets, cakes, mortars to better explain how fireworks work.

MakerFaire 2015 was a fantastic experience to get the name WPA into people’s mindset in a positive way who might never have run across the organization. It’s hard to put a value on that type of exposure, but I was happy to volunteer my time to facilitate that.

For more information about the WPA, visit:
For more information about Maker Faire, visit:

Special thank you to Davex, Marty Walker, Mike Garrett, Dave Best, Steve Wilson, Pete Hand, Allen Lillie, Colleen Lillie, Dan Ramsauer and Pyro Spectaculars for helping make the participation of the Western Pyrotechnic Association at Maker Faire 2015 such a huge success.

Gasoline Mortar Firewall at Winterblast 2015

For Winterblast 2015, I worked with Eric Rebollo to set up a firewall made with gasoline mortars for the Winterblast Member Showcase. The Member Showcase is a nightly show at Winterblast where members of the WPA show off pyrotechnic devices from wheels, firewalls to rockets and mortar shells up to 16″. Sometimes the WPA has 24″ shells, but I digress.

A firewall is a a series of mortar tubes filled with gasoline or another flammable material that when fired simultaneously creates the look of a wall of flame.

wpa winterblast firewall mortar

The heat from the the fireball can be enough to ignite items nearby. The audience could feel the heat from the explosion from several hundred feet away.

The delay in firing is what happens sometimes with a battery, a long run of wire.

Winterblast is an annual event held by the Western Pyrotechnic Association in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. It’s open to professional and amateur pyrotechnicians.

For more information, visit:

wpa winter blast firewall day

Alien Siege Machine

This year at Burning Man, we had to do the impossible — we had to stop an Alien Siege Machine.

We have no idea where these things come from, but once we realized one had touched down at Burning Man, we had to react and stop it before it controlled all of humanity.

Thankfully, we had help. A cadre of art cars, volunteers and a little pyro magic from Black Rock FX, we sent off to defeat this thing. I had to rely on my trusty clown cannon — Precious.

pyro boy - alien siege machine: precious

2500 Rocket Barrage at Winterblast 2014

Every year, I attend a week of fireworks, symposiums shell making at the WPA’s Winterblast. This year was the 25th Anniversary of the event and I wanted to do something a little over the top to add to our convention. I decided to launch a 2500+ rocket barrage for the 25th Anniversary of the Western Pyrotechnic Association.

In order to launch a rocket barrage, we needed to build racks to place the rockets in a position where it went the direction we wanted to avoid the crowd watching the event. This was not supposed to be an interactive show.

2500 rocket barrage rackWe used hardware cloth to give us the ability to aim the rockets.

We laid down quickmatch to help speed along ignition and ensure the rocket barrage got enough flame to ignite the fuses.

With an effect like this, it’s really hard to get all of the rockets to launch at once. Some of them jam, some of them fall apart, some of them explode on the launch pad. All in all, we only had 30 rockets that did not light, which is absolutely amazing.

Without a crew to help, this rocket barrage never would have happened. Special thank you to Dave Best, Dan Ramsauer, Marty Walker, KathyKat, DaveX, Markus von Graf, Fred von Graf, Allison Cohen and those who cannot be named.

Winterblast is five days of hands-on workshops, lectures and members taking on wild projects like the rocket barrage. For more information about Winterblast and the Western Pyrotechnic Association, visit

Another Perspective of the Rocket Barrage

This video was shot from the grandstands at the SARA Park Raceway. I’d really like to do this again!

Burning Man Temple 2013 burn a success

This year for the first time, Black Rock FX was given the unique opportunity to burn the Burning Man Temple 2013. It is a huge honor and one of the signature burns during the event.

Every year, the Burning Man temple has a different shape and theme. For 2013, it was the Temple of Whollyness. This temple was made out of wooden glulam beams in the shape of a pyramid. It was constructed in a way that meant this structure was designed to stand a very long time. This was a beautiful feature because the building struck awe in most visitors.

2013 temple whollyness preburn

One advantage of glulam beams is that the high strength and stiffness of laminated wood allows for a structure which can span large distances without intermediate columns, allowing more design flexibility than with traditional timber construction. They are also designed to be flame-resistant, which becomes a challenge, since the Temple of Whollyness was conceived to be a huge effigy that was expected to be burned down to ashes. Since the wood was treated to be flame-resistant, there was no easy way to burn it to the ground.

Thankfully, we found a way!

The projected timeframe to burn the structure was 45 minutes. We were able to get the structure to collapse in only six minutes!

I greatly appreciate the chance to work on such a wonderful structure and hope we get a chance to do something like this in the future.

Sam Brown: “It’s been a ten year dream to work with Pyro Boy”

sam brown

There’s a great interview by Sam Brown with Promo News.

Sam Brown was the director of the music video Pyro Boy did for London Grammar. Sam is widely regarded as one of the UK’s top commercials directors. He has directed videos for Jay Z, Adele, James Blunt and the Foo Fighters.

Where did the idea of the firework man come from? Did the song provide the inspiration? Presumably this amazing suit already exists?

The idea grew from a line in the song: ‘if a child cries what would you not give them?’. The video was intended as a simple allegory for parenthood. I was thinking about the way we do everything for our children, selflessly and without question, with the unspoken understanding that one day they’ll do the same for us. So in the story the man looks after the girl, and then right at the very end the girl looks after the man.

The guy in the suit is Pyro Boy, an astonishing eccentric called Wally Glenn. It’s been a ten year dream to work with him, but I’d always felt like I wanted to fit him into a story somehow and couldn’t think of the right idea. It’s well known that I’m a pyromaniac. Music videos have pretty much been a way of exploring that obsession. I’m always trying to find ways to explode things.

You can read the full interview here: