The Wizard Takes Off Without Dorothy: Skydiver’s Balloon Leaves Him Behind

We can only imagine the disappointment skydiver Michel Fournier must have felt watching his helium balloon take off without him, a la Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz.” Today, Fournier was going to attempt a record setting skydiving leap from 130,000 feet (40,000 meters), about three times higher than commercial airplanes fly. But the helium balloon he was going to use to soar to the stratosphere detached from the capsule that would have carried him heavenward. Reportedly, the balloon cost at least $200,000 USD and Fournier, 64, was said to have already exhausted his finances. The former paratrooper had planned to make the attempt Monday, but had to postpone his plans because of weather conditions. What a bummer.

The balloon was inflated on the ground at the airport in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. The balloon detached and drifted away into the sky without the capsule.

Fournier appeared disappointed as he left the capsule and walked to the hanger.

Attempts in 2002 and 2003 ended when wind gusts shredded his balloon before it even became airborne.

Fournier’s jump would have broken the record for the fastest and longest free fall, the highest parachute jump and the highest balloon flight. He also hoped to bring back data that will help astronauts and others survive in the highest of altitudes.

An army of technicians, data crunchers, balloon and weather specialists arrived recently in North Battleford, a city of 14,000 near the Saskatchewan-Alberta line, for the attempt.

Fournier had planned to make the jump in his native France, but the government denied him permission because it believed the project was too dangerous. He then came to North Battleford, an agricultural and transportation hub northwest of Saskatoon.

Original News Source: PhysOrg

13 Replies to “The Wizard Takes Off Without Dorothy: Skydiver’s Balloon Leaves Him Behind”

  1. I felt bad for the guy – they were covering it live on TV this morning on CNN.
    Pretty embarassing to have that on live national TV:
    “So SuperDave, when do you take off”
    “Right after that balloon inflates!”
    “You mean _THAT_ balloon flying off over there?”
    “Oh $#|+ !!!”
    “Back to Robin in NY…”

  2. As much as I admire his desire for research, youd think after two failed attempts before, it might be time to call a quits.

  3. Maybe God knew something he didn’t and made the bhalloon go away.

    But then again, he seems to be the kind of guy who would rather go out plunging to his death in a balloon than rotting away in a nursing home – as should we all.

  4. Poor guy. But you’ve got to admit – its pretty funny.

    Someone made a big ‘oops’.

  5. Lets hope next time they tie it to something bigger than a 10lb boulder 🙂

  6. I heard they recovered the balloon and are going to try the jump again sometime soon.

  7. The parachutist should be glad that the detachment occured before the balloon had lifted the capsule to some height.

  8. Oops! They blame it on static electricity. But the guy really isn’t giving up. See the article in International Herald Tribune ( found through Wikipedia. Well, now I’m off to see the helium baloon that just landed in my back yard.

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