On September 5, 2020, almost 800,000 fans worldwide tuned into American illusionist and endurance artist David Blaine's YouTube channel to witness his first major live event since 2012. Called Ascension, the stunt involved Blaine strapping himself to 52 colorful helium balloons and soaring into the clear blue skies above Arizona's Great Basin Desert.
"I want to go up and become a tiny dot in the sky," the adventurer told the New York Post prior to the event.
The stuntman achieved his goal by soaring almost five miles before letting go of the balloons. Blaine than plunged down at a heart-stopping speed of over a hundred miles per hour before pulling the strings on his parachute. After skillfully steering back to Earth and making a picture-perfect landing on his feet, a delighted Blaine quipped, "Wow. That was awesome."
Blaine, who announced his intention to perform the stunt on August 12, 2020, originally planned to use the helium balloons to float across the Hudson River from New Jersey to New York, on August 31, 2020. However, inclement weather in New York forced him to change both the date and the venue.
Though the stuntman made the balloon "flight" look easy, he spent years preparing for the big event. This included becoming a certified hot air balloonist and skydiver and conducting over 500 jumps before finally attempting the daring flight.
This is not the first time Blaine has impressed the world with his endurance stunts. His previous antics include wearing a Faraday bodysuit and helmet — both designed to conduct electricity — and getting jolted by million-volt Tesla coils for three days! The adventurer has also encased himself in a block of ice for more than an hour, stood unharnessed for 35 hours above a 100-foot-high, 22-inch pillar in New York's Bryant Park, and suspended himself in a box over London's River Thames for 44 days, with no food and only 4.5 liters of water!
Resources: NPR.org, theverge.com