The world’s craziest flight

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As children, we are told that much of what happens in movies is make-believe, and not to try emulate our favourite cinematic heroes. It seems that a British man called Tom Morgan didn’t listen to his parents, and recently made the news for attaching 100 giant helium balloons to a camping chair and sailing into the air – reminiscent of a scene from the animated movie “Up!”.

In the movie, a crotchety old man named Carl ties thousands of balloons to his house and goes on a flying adventure to South America. Morgan, who owns a business called The Adventurists, decided to try set up the first-ever competitive helium balloon race in Africa. In order to do so, he decided to conduct an experiment to see if it would work, and the end result was an epic flight.

Tom Morgans balloon flight

The adventurer ended up 2 000 metres up in the air and flew 8km – until he drifted towards the inversion layer of the atmosphere where the temperature rises and the flight started to accelerate very quickly. “I had to keep my cool and start gradually cutting the balloons,” he told the BBC.

The flight, which was originally planned for Botswana, was moved to Johannesburg as a result of weather conditions. The balloons kept bursting on the first few attempts in Botswana, which Morgan chose because “there's lots of open space. And it's in the middle of a continent, so when the wind blows, we won't land in the sea and die”.

“It was a fairly indescribable feeling, wafting across Africa on a cheap camping chair dangling from a load of balloons. Sort of peaceful and terrifying in equal measure,” he said. “I came here to see if we could organise the world's most ridiculous air race and, after that flight, I'm more convinced than ever that we can.”

The helium balloon race is the latest in a series of crazy adventures organised by The Adventurists. They have also organised trips like travelling in the Himalayas by rickshaw and motor biking across a frozen Siberian lake. Morgan, says his aim is to “make the world less boring”.

He created The Adventurists after a failed attempt to drive to Mongolia in 2003. He says he decided to try again the following year with slightly more planning “than just getting drunk in a bar and pointing towards the most ridiculous place he could think of on a map”.

“We hold what we like to think are proper adventures, the sort where you have to use your own cunning; no guides, no rules and plenty of glorious mayhem,” Morgan says. A helium balloon race with dozens of people flying in cheap camping chairs certainly seems to fit the bill.

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