(20 April 2008, Atlantic Ocean) A Catholic priest recently ascended to
heaven on a host of helium balloons, paying homage to Lawn Chair Larry's aerial adventure.
In 1982, Lawnchair Larry attached 45 weather balloons to his
lawnchair, packed a picnic lunch, and cut the tether--but instead of
drifting above Los Angeles babescape as planned, he was
rocketed into LAX air traffic lanes by the hefty lift of the balloons!
Astoundingly, Larry survived the flight, inspiring the movies Up! and
Deckchair Danny, and also inspiring Father Adelir Antonio, 51.
This priest's audacious attempt to set a world record for clustered balloon
flight was intended to publicize his plan to build spiritual rest stops for
truckers. But as truckers know, sitting for 19 hours is not a trivial
matter even in the comfort of your own lawn chair.
The priest did take numerous precautions, including wearing a survival suit,
flying a buoyant chair, packing a satellite phone and GPS. However,
the late A.A. made a fatal mistake -- he did not know how to use the GPS.
The winds changed, as winds do, and he was blown inexorably toward open
sea. He could have parachuted to safety while over land but chose not
to. When the voyager was perilously lost at sea, he finally phoned for
help--but rescuers were unable to determine his location since he
could not use his GPS. He struggled with the unit as the charge on the
cellphone dwindled and died.
Instead of a GPS, the Priest let God be his guide.
Over the next few weeks, bits of balloons began appearing on mountains and
beaches, indicating that God had guided him straight to heaven. Ultimately
the priest's body surfaced, confirming that he had indeed paid a visit to
The kicker? It's a Double Darwin. Catholic priests take vows of
celibacy. Since priests voluntarily remove themselves from the genepool, the
entire group earns a mass Darwin Award. Adelir Antonio wins twice!
Darwin says:"A hot air balloon is maneuvered by altering
altitude. The wind direction changes as one ascends (generally toward the
right in the northern hemisphere) so a skillful pilot can use altitude to
shift the downwind track. (airborneballoons.co.uk)
By comparison, a mass of individual balloons is completely at the mercy of
the wind. The balloons used by the priest were described as party
balloons, which are far more fragile than the weather balloons used by Lawn
"One way ticket to paradise."
"to heaven--or bust"
"There but for the grace of Tecumseh..."
"Don't get too carried away."
"Chairway to Heaven?"
"God's will be done!"
"God Supports Darwin!"
"Sorry about your loss. On a brighter side, you could have lost this guy..."
"A story showing the danger of relying on GPS."
"Fly me to the moon!"
"How many balloons do you think you'll be needing?"
"Anyone you want to give balloons to?"
"They did not teach aerodynamics at the seminary."
"See what happens when you don't get laid enough?"
"This is one for the 'believers'."
On May 28, Jonathan R Trappe crossed the English
Chanel under the pull of outlandishly large colored balloons, in a
colorful HOMAGE to Priest Adelir Antonio's Darwin
Award-winning flight above the Atlantic Ocean in 2008, and Larry Walters' lawnchair-balloon
flight into LAX airspace in 1982.
Self-styled "Cluster Balloon Flight Expert" Trappe landed in France
on Friday, 28 May 2010. Trappe flew from from Challock, England, to Moeres,
France in a chair attached to helium balloon. Trappe had previously set a
record for the longest free-floating balloon flight: 14 hours in the
skies above North Carolina. (AP Photo/Gareth Fuller-pa)
Jonathan Trappe is *not* a Darwin Award candidate. The balloons used by Trappe
were strong custom-made balloons approximately the size and strength of
weather balloons. His flight was not nearly as dangerous as the party
balloon flight taken by the Balloon Priest (above) and
Father Adelir Antonio (left) flew a lawnchair pulled by hundred of
party balloons in an effort to earn donations for trucker rest stops
in Brazil. Unfortunately... he neglected to learn how to use his GPS.
Larry Walters (right) was a frustrated failed pilot who simply wanted to
drift over his SoCal neighborhood. Larry was the first human being to
actually tie party balloons to a lawnchair and take off. His maiden flight
unexpectedly rocketed him 10,000 feet into LAX airspace! Astoundingly, he
To our mind, these two men are the real heroes. They were not pursuing
personal aggrandizement. Larry was in the grips of a visionary muse;
Father Antonio was courageously raising money for a meaningful cause. The
Darwin Awards salutes these heroic balloon flight pioneers!