In what police aren’t describing (but I definitely am) as a “Classic Up situation,” 26-year-old Daniel Boria tethered 110 giant balloons to his lawn chair until he flew away.
Despite turning life into thrilling art, Boria was arrested for his troubles.
The entrepreneurial Canadian man flew over Calgary in a bold attempt to publicize his cleaning company and, presumably, demonstrate the unflappable ingenuity of the human spirit.
Officials with the Calgary International Airport told Global News Canada that Boria reached between 8,000 and 10,000 feet.
“At one point I was looking up at the balloons, they were popping, the chair was shaking and I was looking down at my feet dangling through the clouds at a 747 flight taking off and a few landing,” Boria told the CBC.
“It was incredible. It was the most surreal experience you can ever imagine. I was just by myself on a $20 lawn chair up in the sky above the clouds.”
But if you fly too close to the sun, sometimes you get burned: After he landed, Boria was arrested on a charge of mischief.
Other brave souls have attempted balloon flights, dating back to ballooner Jean Piccard, who tied latex weather balloons to a small basket and went for a ride way back in 1937. Boria’s flight is especially reminiscent of the solo jaunt of “Lawnchair Larry” Walters, who attached 42 helium weather balloons to a Sears lawnchair and went for a California sunshine joyride in 1982, taking a pellet gun with him to shoot the balloons when he wanted to descend. Walters made it all the way up to 16,000 feet before coming down (where he was also arrested). The world record for DIY lawnchair ballooning is 18,400 feet, and there’s even been a lawn chair cluster balloon race, so this isn’t entirely unprecedented. But it is glorious.
Boria’s stunt coincided with the Calgary Stampede, the city’s annual rodeo event, which draws over a million tourists. Sanctioned events include calf-roping (strangling baby cows), and steer wrestling (literally humans wrestling with bulls, often until severe injury).
The yearly celebration of frontiersman derring do and dominance over the animal world is far more violent than one man’s solo escapade through the clouds. Boria’s stunt recalls Philippe Petit’s tightrope walk across the Twin Towers, except Boria actually took more safety precautions than Petit. He took an oxygen tank to avoid losing consciousness, as well as a parachute, which he ended up using to land in a field.
It’s not clear exactly how much helium Boria used, but since 1 cubic foot of helium lifts around 0.067 pounds, a conservative estimate is at least 2000 cubic feet for an 150 pound man. He spent around $20,000 on the stunt, but has zero regrets.
“You can spend the same marketing dollars on a billboard or a commercial or you can fly a balloon up in the air and jump out,” Boria told the CBC. “It just seems like more fun, right?”
Emphasis mine! It seems infinitely more fun to huck off the confining shackles of gravity and human limitation and “laws” and soar, soar, soar through the air like a bird of prey, gentle yet fierce, untethered and whimsical, trying in your way to be free.