Oddly enough, there are at least four men who have used some type of balloon to float above the ground, and all of them became famous in their own way.
The most famous case takes us back to 1982.
A 33-year-old military veteran, Larry Walters, came up with the idea of floating from Los Angeles into the Mojave Desert in a Sears and Roebuck garden chair adorned with weather balloons – 45 to be precise.
It started on June 2nd and immediately became a legend.
In the end, it soared 16,000 feet above LAX and was spotted by pilots who flew into the airport.
According to a 2015 New York Times article, this is one of the reported air traffic control conversations:
“This is TWA 231, elevation at sixteen thousand feet. We have a man in a chair attached to balloons at our ten o’clock position that has a range of five miles.”
Walters planned to descend by popping some of the balloons with an air pistol, but it was lost shortly after his flight.
After hitting a couple of power lines, he dismounted safely.
Walters died in 2010, but he gave his chair to a child near his landing site and it was donated to Smithsonian in 2019.
Another aviation enthusiast was inspired to fly after Walter’s successful flight.
“We wanted to do something fun and uplifting on the first day of 1984,” Kevin Walsh told CNN.
The 24-year-old, decked out with a parachute and 57 balloons, climbed into the sky from Minuteman Airport west of Boston, Massachusetts.
He was tied to two thousand pound ropes that he eventually had to cut with a razor blade because he left his knives on the floor.
“I guess I made it 9,000 feet … I stayed at about 6,000 feet and when I got down to 3,000 I loosened up and parachuted away,” Walsh said.
His team took various precautions prior to the flight, including informing planes and other aircraft that there would be parachute activity in the area.
The team also attached foil to the balloons so that Walsh appeared on the radar. Walsh said it was the size of the Statue of Liberty on radar screens.
Walsh was fined $ 4,000 by the Federal Aviation Administration for flying too close to the airspace of Boston Logan Airport.
“It was the adventure of a lifetime,” he said.
Daniel Boria |
In 2015, Daniel Boria was trying to get attention for his cleaning business when he tied more than 100 helium balloons to a garden chair and soared through the sky over Calgary, Canada.
Armed with an oxygen tank and a parachute, he spent about $ 10,000 to perform the stunt.
Shortly after he flew, he opened a parachute and returned to the ground, where Calgary police arrested him and charged him with an accident that caused death.
“I would estimate I was up about 500 to 1,000 feet in a minute,” he told CNN at the time. “I looked down on the city and watched 747s and planes approach the local airport.”
In September David Blaine decided to try his hand at unconventional flying.
The famous illusionist soared over the Arizona desert by holding onto about 50 helium balloons.
“Every single stunt I’ve ever done is about perseverance and overcoming what I thought was possible,” Blaine said in a video before the performance. “I cannot imagine that many people would dream of it.”
The performance lasted approximately an hour from takeoff to landing and the event was broadcast live on YouTube.
Although his original goal was to reach an altitude of about 18,000 feet, he hovered to 24,900 feet – or about 4.7 miles – before skydiving and parachuting back to the ground.
CNN’s Harmeet Kaur, Lauriel Cleveland, Douglas Wood and Chuck Johnston contributed to this report.