BALLOON PRIEST -- Confirmed True by Darwin
In 1982 Lawn Chair Larry, beloved survivor of a Darwin Award
attempt, attached 45 huge helium balloons to his comfortable Sears
lawn chair, packed a picnic lunch, and cut the tether. But instead
of drifting lazily above the Los Angeles landscape, the combined
lift of 45 weather balloons rocketed Larry into LAX air traffic
lanes 16,000 feet above sea level. Astoundingly, he survived the
In homage to Larry's whimsical adventure, a Catholic priest
recently ascended towards heaven on a host of helium party
balloons. Andelir Antonio de Carli, 41, was attempting to set the
world record for clustered balloon flight to publicize his plan to
build a spiritual rest stop for truckers.
Spending more than 19 hours in a lawn chair is not a trivial
matter, even in the comfort of your own backyard. The priest took
numerous safety precautions, including wearing a survival suit,
selecting a buoyant chair, and packing a satellite phone and a
GPS. However, the late Adelir Antonio made a fatal mistake.
He did not know how to use the GPS.
The winds changed, as winds do, and he was blown off course toward
the ocean. He could have parachuted to safety while still over
land, but chose against this prudent act. Not until he was
hopelessly lost at sea did he telephone for help. But rescuers
were unable to reach the voyager since he could not provide his
location. He struggled with the intricacies of his GPS as the
charge on the satellite phone dwindled.
Instead of a GPS, the priest let God be his guide, and God guided
him straight to heaven. For several weeks, bits of balloons were
found on mountains and beaches. Ultimately the priest's body
surfaced, confirming that he, like Elvis, had left the building.
The kicker? Caltholic priests take vows of celibacy. Since they
voluntarily remove themselves from the gene pool, the entire group
earns a mass Darwin Award. Adelir Antonio is a winner twice over!
Reference: globo.com, Sydney Morning Herald, Associated Press, and
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Note from Darwin: "A hot air balloon is maneuvered by altering
its altitude. The wind direction changes as one ascends, generally
toward the right in the northern hemisphere. A skillful pilot uses
that variation to alter the downwind track. (airborneballoons.co.uk)
By comparison, a mass of individual balloons is completely
at the mercy of the wind."