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Man takes flight with helium balloons

A South African man has flown in a harness carried by helium balloons between Robben Island and the South African mainland, a distance of 3.7 miles.

Matt Silver-Vallance is a 37-year-old South African man who has become the first person to make the 3.7 mile crossing between Robben Island and the South African mainland by way of helium balloons. The journey took an hour to complete. Silver-Vallance took on the perilous journey as a stunt to raise money for the Nelson Mandela children’s hospital.


The brave ballooner donned a wetsuit, just in case he would fall into the shark-infested waters of the south Atlantic below, and then attached himself to a harness to which he tied 160 helium balloons. In order to not float up indefinitely, he also used bags of water to adjust his height (just like an airship does) and was carrying both a spear and an airgun, so he could deflate his balloons little by little for the landing.


Silver-Vallance is not a daredevil by trade; he works as a marketing manager at a medical device company, and said he came up with the idea while watching a documentary about Astronauts. The program inspired him to think of other ways to defy gravity. There must be some daredevil in him though, because the stunt was completed without a test run, leaving the man with no clue as to whether he’d actually make it across.

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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