On October 20, British adventurer Tom Morgan soared over South Africa seated in a camp chair strapped to 100 helium balloons. During the two-hour flight, the balloonist covered 16 miles and reached heights of up to 8,000 feet. Though the daredevil later called the experience “unbelievably cool,” he did admit feeling “somewhere between terrified and elated” during the flight.
Morgan, the founder of the League of Adventurists, a British group whose mission is to make the world “less boring,” says the flight was initially supposed to take off from Botswana. However, after intense gusts of winds shredded the balloons three times, the team decided to attempt it from the outskirts of Johannesburg. Given that they only had enough helium left for one more try, Morgan was happy he was finally able to complete the flight without any mishaps.
The adventurer says though the helium flight appears similar to Carl Fredricksen’s house flight in Pixar’s “Up,” his inspiration came from an article on a 1905 gas balloon race. Morgan and his League of Adventurists now hope to add cluster balloon racing to their list of exciting events, which double as fundraisers.
Though Morgan is the first to think of introducing helium balloon-powered flights as a sport, he is not the first person to attempt the dangerous feat. US adventurer Jonathan Trappe has completed numerous such flights, including one across the English Channel. In 2010, Oregon aviator Kent Couch even took a friend along on an attached chair. A year later, National Geographic reenacted the scene from "Up" by using helium balloons to fly a small house, complete with two brave residents, across North America’s Mojave Desert.
Resources: Dailymail.co.uk, the adventurists.com, huffingtonpost.com