David Smith grew up watching his dad at work and knew from a young age he wanted to follow in the family business.

The family business is shooting people out of a giant cannon.

“It was normal for me, but it was pretty exciting,” Smith said of his father, David Smith Sr. “Everyone came up and talked to me like my dad was a superhero. It was great. In my mind, he was the best human cannonball of all time. I watched him launch himself into the record books for the first time when I was a little boy. I’ve watched him break the world record many times over, and I’m proud to say the world record has never left the family.”

The junior Smith is himself a five-time Guinness World Record holder for farthest distance and greatest height for a human cannonball, having broken his own records three times. He is performing through the end of the month at the North Georgia State Fair at Jim R. Miller Park.

He had the crowd cheering Saturday when he climbed into a 30-foot cannon and blasted off over the Cyclops carnival ride and into a safety net on the other side.

The cannon accelerates Smith from zero to 60 mph in about a fifth of a second, he said. He regularly experiences a gravitational force of over 10 Gs during his stunts.

“I was kind of worried he was going to miss the net or something,” said Major Clark, a high school freshman from Haralson County. “Good thing he didn’t.”

“I was scared for him,” agreed his fifth-grade sister, Sarah. “It was really loud. It was awesome.”

Also scared for Smith was his business manager and girlfriend, Alexis Bohlinger, who, in addition to handling the money and advertising, presses the button that fires the cannon.

“It’s terrifying,” she said. “Every time I get in there to shoot him, I’m like, ‘What am I doing right now?’ I just had one of those moments right now, actually. I kind of froze. But he’s really, really smart and he knows his stuff. Now that I know more about it, it’s a lot less scary. He can hit a dime on that net if he wants to.”

Smith said he has never missed his net, though on occasion, the net has broken. That happened once years ago at the North Georgia State Fair. Smith said he lost consciousness for a few moments after hitting the ground, but was back performing the next day, following a stop at the hospital for an MRI.

Smith has been performing off and on at the North Georgia State Fair since around the time he started as a human cannonball 22 years ago, and he said it’s a gig he’s always happy to book.

“I’m sure happy to be back,” he said. “This is one of the most beautiful fairs in the country, the midway is beautiful, the rides are beautiful. I’ve seen most all of them, and I can testify to that.”

Smith said he especially enjoys night shows, when he can get a bird’s eye view of the fair all lit up, even though the flight is a short one.

“It’s about a five-second cannon shot, but I’m high enough to see everything, and believe me, my eyes are open. I’m very awake,” he said.

Smith will be performing throughout the fair, weekdays at 7 and 9 p.m., weekends at 3, 6 and 9 p.m.

For more information on Smith and the other acts and attractions, visit www.northgeorgiastatefair.com

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