Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 October 2020

David Blaine is up and away in high-flying balloon stunt

American extreme performer ascended 7,600 metres in the air clinging on to helium balloons before parachuting to earth

Daredevil David Blaine clung on to dozens of helium-filled balloons thousands of feet in the air in his first live stunt in eight years, before parachuting safely back to land.

The extreme performer ascended nearly 25,000 feet (7,600 metres) into the Arizona sky in his YouTube livestream event he called Ascension.

"It's like magic, it feels like I'm floating in the air," Blaine said on a radio to his team of aides back on the ground after gently lifting off from a desert airstrip in Page, Arizona.

Blaine dropped small weights to speed his ascent, donned a parachute mid-flight and strapped on an oxygen mask as he neared 24,900 feet, an altitude where most commercial airliners travel.

The 47-year-old has a history of performing high-profile and high-risk feats of endurance.

His stunts include locking himself in a fish bowl, trapping himself in a block of ice for two days in Times Square, and standing freely atop a thin, tall pillar for 35 hours in New York City.

Wednesday's stunt lasted about 30 minutes. Blaine released himself from the balloon cluster and free-fell for about 30 seconds before deploying a parachute to slow his descent.

YouTube said the stunt set a new record as the most-watched YouTube Originals live event yet, drawing more than 770,000 viewers.

"Wow, that was awesome," Blaine yelled into his radio as he stood back on land.

Blaine has said he trained for the event for two years, including becoming a licensed pilot.

It was his first live broadcast stunt since 2012.

Updated: September 3, 2020 05:53 PM

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