Balloon Leaves Without Deflated Jumper
(GTN)-Ballon Dysfonctionnement is French for my balloon has left without me. Well, not quite-but that's what happened in Saskatchewan, western Canada today.
Former French paratrooper Michel Fournier, 64,was hoping to shatter four World records-but that was not to be, as the capsule that was to take him aloft to a height of 130,000 feet (that's the equivalent of 130,000 common school rulers stacked end-to-end), then drop him into a 15 minute free-fall, was never attached to the balloon.
Fournier was wearing a fluorescent green pressurized suit like an astronaut on a space walk, and had entered the capsule around 2:30 a.m., breathing pure oxygen which cleanses the bloodstream and body tissues of dissolved nitrogen that might vaporize into a gas as he ascended, causing what experts call the bends-a sometimes fatal affliction.
They filled the balloon with helium from a filler truck nearby and as it began to rise, the small crowd gathered to witness the event began to cheer. Meanwhile, the Mayor of North Battleford, Julian Sadlowski proudly exclaimed, "This will put us on the map!"
"Official statements made to the press like that always seem to jinx any chance for success-ay, as the passengers of the "unsinkable" Titanic can attest," said one spectator. "This is why I voted against him-ay."
This was Fournier's third-and possibly last attempt to break the record. He has used his own money and is practically bankrupt. He asked if we could buy him an Egg McMuffin and Hash Brown prior to the launch. "I'm famished!" he pleaded.
It was a tragic accident. The man in charge of attaching the $100,000 balloon to the capsule left his post and went into the crowd to twist balloons into fun animal shapes for the kids, and had just forgotten to complete the job of securing the capsule. "The kids were cranky because of the early hour, and he thought he could help cheer them up," said one witness.
The ground around the runway was littered with the tattered remains of the high altitude balloon-and the macabre remains of balloon dogs, bears, and giraffes.