David Blaine lands high-flying, live balloon ride above the Arizona desert
Magician David Blaine enjoyed a peaceful float over Page, Arizona, Wednesday morning with the help of a bundle of balloons, as captured on a livestream.
The 47-year-old partnered with YouTube Originals for the feat dubbed “Ascension,” which Blaine said was inspired by a desire to do something beautiful for his young daughter, Dessa, 9. His child with former partner, French model Alizée Guinochet, was introduced in April’s special, “David Blaine: The Magic Way” and even showed off some magic skills of her own.
The latex, helium-filled balloons used Wednesday weren’t your party-store variety. They were tricked out and could be deflated or popped remotely, as needed. One “balloon” made of fiberglass held a parachute and oxygen. The apparatus also allowed for the stunt to be filmed.
At an altitude of nearly 25,000 feet, Blaine ejected himself and parachuted to the ground.
The stream began at 9 a.m. EDT, but Blaine didn’t leave the ground until about two hours later. Part of the broadcast included snippets from David Blaine’s training – learning how to fly balloons, skydive and deal with cooler temps.
Luke Aikins, a skydiving expert, outlined the risks: chilly temperatures, hypoxia (defined by the Cleveland Clinic as “low oxygen levels in your tissues”), affixing a parachute packed amid the balloons and the landing. David Blaine said he had not performed the feat in its entirety before.
“Ascension” was originally scheduled for Monday and for an entirely different location. The endurance artist was supposed to take off from New Jersey and float across New York City.
“This is the most that I have ever prepared for any performance to date,” Blaine captioned a video shared with Instagram followers Aug. 18. In previous stunts, he had spent a week buried underground, stood atop a 100-feet high pillar for 35 hours and fasted for 44 days inside a Plexiglas box, The video shared some of the requirements for the latest stunt – getting a pro sky diver rating and a hot air balloon pilot certificate, in addition to learning how to read the wind.
Before Blaine’s departure, nerves appeared to be setting in as he was being shown the landing zone.
“This is where it gets real,” he said, adding he’s “the worst person with directions.”
Blaine acknowledged this stunt felt “crazy … Normally, I feel like I have control over everything,” he said. “This one, I have no control of anything.”
Blaine was walked to the launch site where Dessa added another balloon to her father’s assortment and gave him a kiss. Just before 11 a.m. EDT, David Blaine began his rise, waving to those below. A wide shot showed a dark silhouette beneath colorful balloons.
“Wow,” he exclaimed, “It’s so beautiful.”
Within minutes he’d reached an altitude of 5,000 feet. He spoke to his daughter and told her, “It feels like I’m floating.”
Blaine was able to successfully put on his parachute by 9,200 feet. About 20 minutes in, he started a breathing technique to bring his oxygen level back up. At an altitude of 14,000 feet, he said he felt “great” and praised his team who made the day possible.
Around 11:30, he told Dessa, “I’m really, really good and I’ll be seeing you pretty soon.”
About 10 minutes later, Blaine had ascended to 21,000 feet, and was using oxygen. He said he could see his landing site. He released himself from the balloons at an altitude of 24,900 feet.
Alhough Blaine voiced concerns about reaching the far-off landing area, he was able to find a space to safely end his flight. Minutes before noon he landed and marveled at his accomplishment.
“Wow!” he said. “That was awesome!”
“That was great!” Dessa agreed.
“I love you,” he told her. “This is all for you!”
Reported by USTODAY