Outdoors

Man reenacts movie "Up" with 90 colored balloons and a sun lounger

Erik Roner recently used 90 helium-filled balloons and a sun lounger to fly up to 8,000 ft (2,438 m)
Erik Roner recently used 90 helium-filled balloons and a sun lounger to fly up to 8,000 ft (2,438 m)
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Erik Roner recently used 90 helium-filled balloons and a sun lounger to fly up to 8,000 ft (2,438 m)
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Erik Roner recently used 90 helium-filled balloons and a sun lounger to fly up to 8,000 ft (2,438 m)
Erik Roner pictured with one of the helium-filled balloons
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Erik Roner pictured with one of the helium-filled balloons
The sun lounger that Erik Roner sat in to be lifted up by the helium-filled balloons
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The sun lounger that Erik Roner sat in to be lifted up by the helium-filled balloons
Erik Roner on camera prior to his stunt
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Erik Roner on camera prior to his stunt
The sun lounger anchored to the ground with a group of balloons attached
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The sun lounger anchored to the ground with a group of balloons attached
Two groups of balloons are attached to the sun lounger
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Two groups of balloons are attached to the sun lounger
A third group of balloons is added to the sun lounger
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A third group of balloons is added to the sun lounger
A drone was used to film Erik Roner's ascent
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A drone was used to film Erik Roner's ascent
Erik Roner is helped into the sun lounger
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Erik Roner is helped into the sun lounger
Erik Roner seated in the sun lounger preparing for lift-off
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Erik Roner seated in the sun lounger preparing for lift-off
Erik Roner lifts-off in the sun lounger
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Erik Roner lifts-off in the sun lounger
Roner used a shotgun to burst some of the balloons once he reached the desired altitude
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Roner used a shotgun to burst some of the balloons once he reached the desired altitude
Roner used a mechanism to release the sun lounger from the balloons before parachuting back to the ground
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Roner used a mechanism to release the sun lounger from the balloons before parachuting back to the ground
Erik Roner recently used 90 helium-filled balloons and a sun lounger to fly up to 8,000 ft (2,438 m)
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Erik Roner recently used 90 helium-filled balloons and a sun lounger to fly up to 8,000 ft (2,438 m)

Have you ever wondered how many helium-filled balloons it would take to lift you up and let you fly among the clouds? Extreme sports enthusiast Erik Roner recently found out. Roner attached 90 helium-filled balloons to a sun lounger and rose to 8,000 ft (2,438 m).

Even without having seen the movie Up, plenty of people will have looked at helium balloons and thought about using them to fly. Roner himself tells Gizmag that his motivation for carrying out the stunt was as simple as curiosity. "It's something I’ve wanted to do for a long time," he says. "Who hasn’t thought of getting lifted off the ground by a bunch of helium balloons?" It was all the more reminiscent of the movie, however, due to the colorful balloons used.

A great deal of preparation was required for the project. Roner spoke to people who had done similar balloon flights before and used their advice and experience to inform his planning. Among the calculations that were done in advance of his flight, Roner and his team worked out how much helium would be required to to lift him off the ground, how high he would rise and how far would he might travel. A backup plan was also worked out in case anything went wrong.

Erik Roner pictured with one of the helium-filled balloons
Erik Roner pictured with one of the helium-filled balloons

Other things that were considered included what sort of sun lounger or lawn chair would be best to use for the stunt, how it could be released from the balloons when it was time to return to terra firma and how to skydive safely when holding a shotgun. "We went over every detail of the process," Roner explains. "Weather was a huge factor. We even moved the launch day up a few days last minute because our initial day was predicting bad weather."

Roner designed the sun lounger and release system with the help of his parachute rigger. A lightweight lounger was chosen and a stable platform was designed from which the lines and balloons could be released when necessary. The contraption was put together using common parachute materials, including a 3-ring release system, risers, cutaway cable, carbineers, rope and string.

Erik Roner lifts-off in the sun lounger
Erik Roner lifts-off in the sun lounger

On the day of the stunt, around 20 volunteers helped Roner and his team to inflate the balloons with 50 tanks-worth of helium before attaching them to the lounger. The lounger was released from the cables holding it to the ground and Roner was lifted up by the balloons along with a shotgun for bursting them and a parachute to let him float back down.

The video below shows the preparation, the ascent and the eventual freefall.

Source: Erik Roner

LIFTED : Erik Roner

13 comments
Daniel Bruce
Didn't a guy already do something like this in the 1980's?
Rehab
Dude don't let the rednecks get a hold of this. You may have just launched high altitude duck hunting!
Peter Kelly
First, even had I wondered, it only takes one balloon if it's the right size. Second, this has been done before, on more than one occasion. Third, it is a completely pointless exercise and a waste of good helium which, a little research will tell you, is a limited and rapidly diminishing resource.
Dan Lewis
90 VERY BIG balloons, NOT the standard party balloon. The writer somehow left that important little bit out. I wonder why.
JAT
Bruce - yes someone did and was arrested by the FAA because he flew in controlled commercial air space.
cv41662
Daniel Bruce: I remember someone doing the same in the 80's and getting in deep with the FAA over it. Thinking about it, it made sense being that a lounge chair just a floatin into the air space above without anyone knowing I'm sure would tick off any pilot ripping by at 300mph. I'm not sure how high that guy rose. But I do remember he just took a BB gun and shot the balloons one by one to return to earth.
Tim Nelson
Flying cluster balloons is not a new thing. The helium calculations are fairly simple. I find it interesting that it got as much press as it did, must be the word "extreme". As a balloonist I do not find anything "extreme" about what Eric did. For more about cluster balloons you can visit this website. http://www.clusterballoon.org/ Still fun to watch. http://www.skydrifters.com
Les LaZar
Of course, in the movie "UP", the old man lifted an entire house.
Mike Malsed
mythbusters did it, the guy in the 80s did it. . . definitely a waste of helium, of which we have a very limited supply. also polluting the sky with the balloons just left rising. . . and the chair which tumbled down uncontrolled. . . so much irresponsibility in this one.
David Bell
Totally dumb not to have that "descent mechanism" tethered! Aside from possibly dropping it while parachuting, what if he lost it during ascent? Just what was the burst altitude of the balloons? And how many could he lose and still be climbing?