In 2001, Ian Ashpole – the owner of a hot air balloon flight company, flew into the record books by setting a new world record for a flight powered by party balloons.
The intrepid man from Hertfordshire, reached a height of 11,000ft, while strapped to 600 helium balloons. He beat his previous world record of 10,000ft set in 1996.
Once he ascended to the record height Mr Ashpole, cut himself adrift with a knife and parachuted back to earth.
Afterwards he said: “It’s a childhood dream. I saw a film called The Red Balloon, in which a boy floats off on balloons, when I was a child and ever since I’ve wanted to do it.”
To give himself enough height to be able to parachute safely to the ground, Mr Ashpole had risen to 5,000ft attached to a support balloon. He then released himself and rose a further 6,000ft at an initial rate of around 1,000ft a minute.
He said: “The one worrying moment came when I released myself from the support balloon and began to spin quite dramatically. It got to a point where a lot of balloons were starting to burst – it was like machine guns going off – and I cut myself free without any problem.”
His wife Louise Ashpole said: “I don’t understand it. I have no idea why he wants to do it. It’s obviously great fun for him. I don’t think I could stop him doing it if I wanted to.”
Don’t try this at home!