Crime

Man Fined $26,000 For Balloon Stunt (Photos)

| by Michael Howard

A man from Calgary, Canada, was fined $26,500 for a 2015 stunt in which he tied more than 100 balloons to a lawn chair and floated thousands of feet above the Calgary Stampede festival.

Daniel Boria, 27, pleaded guilty in December 2016 to dangerous operation of an aircraft. The exploit was meant to be a promotional stunt for his cleaning company, All Clean Natural, and earned him the nickname the "balloonatic."

Boria had planned to parachute down during the festival's chuckwagon races, but high winds pushed his makeshift aircraft off course and he wound up crash-landing outside Calgary, Toronto Star reported at the time.

His initial plan was to sky dive over the Stampede grounds, but that fell through when he couldn't find a pilot willing to participate. So, he went with the helium balloons instead, in a scene that looked like something out of Pixar movie "Up."

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"The stunt was unconscionably stupid,'' Judge Bruce Fraser said at Boria's sentencing on March 17, according to The Huffington Post. "There was nothing fantastic, fun or exhilarating about it as the offender was quoted describing it. It was dumb and dangerous.''

According to Fraser, Boria floated into the flight paths of several commercial aircraft. CBC reports that 24 airplanes took off and landed in Calgary while Boria was in the air.

"It is unknown what height he achieved, but there is an estimate of some 14,000 feet,'' Fraser said. "At some point a commercial aircraft, the offender called it a 747, passed underneath him.''

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The result could have been catastrophic.

"If he was headed into an oncoming aircraft, he could not have diverted away from it nor could the aircraft have avoided him," the judge said. "A collision could have disabled the aircraft in a number of ways causing it to fall and crash."

"Not only would there have been a loss of lives of those people on the aircraft, the crash would have been in a densely populated metropolis, risking the lives of those on the ground.''

While Boria apologized "for wasting everybody's time" and putting others at risk, he said he thinks the stunt was ultimately worthwhile.

"I have the greatest story to tell for the rest of my life,'' he said. "I understood the risks but, if you do anything, you're going to get in trouble. If you don't do anything, you won't be in trouble but you won't get anywhere either.''

Boria couldn't help smiling while reporters asked him questions outside the courthouse.

"It's pretty hard to take it seriously when you guys are asking me these questions based on me flying a lawn chair lifted by helium balloons," he said.

Sources: CBC, Toronto Star, The Huffington Post / Photo credit: Toronto Star, Tom Warne via The Huffington Post, Daniel Boria via CBC

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