With all due respect to David Blaine, his newest stunt sounded boring on paper. He would fly into the air whereas holding onto just a few balloons, then safely parachute again to Earth … and that’s precisely what occurred. But after watching your complete affair streamed dwell on YouTube, I’ve to confess: David Blaine made “real-life Up” right into a thrill journey.
The stunt itself known as “Ascension,” and it actually is so simple as it sounds. Using a bunch of specifically designed helium-filled balloons connected to a harness, Blaine would float excessive into the sky — earlier than he took off, estimates had been placing his flight’s apex at about 18,00zero toes. Once he obtained excessive sufficient, he’d lower himself unfastened and parachute to security.
To his immense credit score, Blaine — who’s pretty much as good at advertising and marketing as he’s at death-defying feats — is aware of that there’s no level in doing an unbelievable stunt if nobody sees it. So he’s been selling “Ascension” on YouTube since early August, when he launched the first teaser. Next, Blaine went on what quantities to a press tour of YouTubers and influencers together with Charli and Dixie D’Amelio and Casey Neistat. At every cease, he defined just a little extra in regards to the stunt and all of the preparation and coaching that might go into pulling it off.
All this promotion finally led as much as Wednesday, the day he would truly ascend dwell on a particular YouTube Originals stream. Even whereas watching the ultimate moments of preparation, nothing in regards to the prospect of the stunt felt significantly attention-grabbing. While he was standing on the bottom, surrounded by a digital camera and his security crew, it appeared pretty apparent that the probabilities of success had been excessive.
David Blaine might do some harmful issues, however the entire level of a death-defying stunt is to defy dying. Plus, there was video proof of all of the prep work he had been doing — each successful and unsuccessful. In different phrases, the stakes felt low whereas all of the balloons had been being connected to Blaine’s customized harness.
Then he left the bottom.
Once Blaine was within the air, suspended solely by just a few comically massive balloons, “Ascension” became the spectacle the illusionist had been promising. After just some hundred toes, the bottom began to alter from the distinct airstrip he took off from to the obscure terrain options most of us are used to seeing solely from airplanes (or, I suppose, Microsoft Flight Simulator). Once he reached an altitude of 4,500 toes, the feed converted to a helicopter shot, and the pure ridiculousness of all of it grew to become manifestly, terrifyingly apparent.
But whereas the helicopter pictures of him towards the panorama had been spectacular, they couldn’t maintain a candle to the pictures we obtained from Blaine’s personal standpoint. His balloon rig got here geared up with a number of cameras designed to present us an inside take a look at all of the intricacies of his flight.
At one level, someplace round 7,00zero toes, Blaine started placing on his parachute. It began out easily: He put each straps over his shoulders and fixed them throughout his chest. Then he obtained to the leg straps, and missed his first try. For just a few seconds, Blaine regarded up and simply type of stared out throughout the panorama, almost 8,00zero toes within the air. (At that time, he was climbing at round 500 toes a minute.)
There’s no actual strategy to know what he was pondering in that second. He might have been calming himself down, or simply ingesting it in. Perhaps he wasn’t anxious in any respect about lacking the strap, however I positively was.
Maybe it was all simply Blaine’s nice performer’s instincts, as a result of if you see a hitch in a stunt, all of the horrible potentialities begin to slip into your head. After all, we knew he practiced for this second, however he’d by no means accomplished this half earlier than. He’d by no means floated 9,00zero toes above the Earth and fumbled his first try at placing on the one factor that might get him again to the bottom safely.
Whatever occurred in that second, it didn’t appear to matter a lot to Blaine. After his temporary pause, he regarded again down on the leg strap and fixed it on his subsequent strive. From then on, the flight progressed easily. Just one man, strapped to greater than a dozen comically massive balloons floating hundreds of toes above the bottom. He even had just a few quick and really candy telephone calls along with his younger daughter, who was there to observe.
As he continued to climb, Blaine pulled out an oxygen tank to assist compensate for the thinner air. There was just one scary step left looming: the bounce.
Many hundreds of toes after he connected his parachute, someplace just under 25,00zero toes, with over 700,00zero individuals watching dwell on YouTube, David Blaine indifferent from his balloons and started plummeting towards the bottom. Technically, this was probably the most regular a part of the entire stunt: It’s only a slightly-higher-than-normal skydive. But when he lower himself unfastened from the balloons, I nonetheless held my breath all the best way down till his parachute lastly opened.
Once it did, Blaine slowly drifted again to the bottom, negotiating along with his crew to search out the most secure spot to land within the Arizona desert earlier than lastly touching down safely.
In the top, the stunt was each precisely what I assumed it might be and a complete lot extra. It was, in reality, only a dude floating above the Earth utilizing big balloons, nevertheless it was additionally weirdly thrilling, and a very good strategy to spend just a few hours of my morning. The YouTube stream’s description says that Blaine’s intention was to convey everybody a optimistic distraction. He did that.
A couple of minutes after his secure landing, the stream ended with an abrupt lower to a black display letting me know that the entire thrilling factor was filmed whereas following the strictest CDC and OSHA suggestions on security, testing, and social distancing. And all of the sudden, I actually missed the view of David Blaine, 25,00zero toes within the air, connected to a bunch of big-ass balloons.