Home

A South African man; possibly inspired by the Disney movie UP, on Saturday successfully flew across the sea from Nelson Mandela’s apartheid island prison using helium-filled giant party balloons.

The six-kilometre (3.7-mile) crossing, to raise funds for a children’s hospital named after the country’s former president, was the first stunt of its kind from the historical site.

man-balloon-flight

Photo by Rodger Bosch

Matt Silver-Vallance, 37, took around an hour to float across the Atlantic Ocean from Robben Island while harnessed to a mass of multi-coloured balloons in grey, drizzly conditions with low visibility.

Making his way wearing a wetsuit, he floated a few metres above the sea, with controls for flight including bags weighted with water and an air gun and make-shift spear to pop balloons.

“Wow, that was crazy,” he said, saying he felt “unbelievable” after landing in a rubber duck around 300-400 metres (yards) from shore once the balloons were released.

“Don’t try this at home,” he quipped.

With no test run ahead of lift-off, a total of 160 balloons were inflated on the island early Saturday morning, with several popping ahead of departure.

The daring mission aimed to raise 10 million rand ($1.1 million, 852,000 euros) for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital which will be built in Johannesburg.

The Nobel Peace Prize recipient spent part of his 27 year imprisonment on Robben Island which is now a museum.

The helium for the balloons was worth 70,000 rand and the balloons cost 90,000 rand. Both were donated.

– AFP

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s