David Blaine successfully pulled off his Up-inspired Ascension stunt over Arizona. The illusionist had a goal of reaching 18,000 feet up in the air, but exceeded the goal and made it up to 24,000 feet, or nearly 5 miles. Blaine has been preparing for this particular stunt for months, learning new breathing techniques to deal with the high altitude. "Every single stunt that I've ever done is about endurance and pushing past what I thought would be possible," Blaine said before the performance.
The whole performance lasted about an hour and David Blaine had it broadcast live on his YouTube channel. He used 50 helium-filled balloons to accomplish his goal and then he used a parachute to get down. "Wow!" he exclaimed right before he touched back down to Earth. "That was awesome!" In order to get higher, the illusionist would drop weights from his pockets. Blaine had to become a licensed hot air balloon pilot to pull off the Up stunt, which was originally going to take place in New York City.
David Blane called Ascension his most ambitious stunt to date and notes that he will attempt to top it soon. "I can't imagine that many people would dream of doing it," he said of the stunt. While that is more than likely true, there are people who have attempted this kind of stunt before. In 1982, Larry Walters, aka Lawn Chair Larry, successfully tied weather balloons to an ordinary lawn chair in San Pedro, California. He brought along a bb gun to shoot out the balloons when he got too high, which worked out pretty well for himself until he dropped the gun.
In addition to the bb gun, Larry Walters brought a few sandwiches and some beer, which helped comfort him as he slowly started to descend back to Earth after getting up 15,000 feet, or nearly 3 miles. He violated national airspace and ended up landing safely in Long Beach, California, despite landing in some powerlines, which caused a massive power outage. He later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the heart. Walters was memorialized in a song from the group Pinback in a song fittingly called, "Walters."
Radio personality Howard Stern attempted to have one of his guests, Eric the Actor, flown with the balloons in his wheelchair, but Eric was never interested in the idea, even though Jimmy Kimmel lobbied hard to make it happen. In the end, David Blaine was the one to make Disney/Pixar Up stunt to life in a safe manner, but without a house. Blaine also isn't the only one to get into flying high above the Earth in an unorthodox manner. A mysterious man was caught flying over LAX with a jetpack over the weekend. Unlike David Blaine, the mystery man did not get permission and is now being investigated by the FBI. You can watch the Ascension stunt above, thanks to the David Blaine YouTube channel.