David Blaine has landed safely and soundly from his latest live-TV stunt, “Ascension.” (OK, so it was live-YouTube.)
The magician flew 24,900 feet above the Page, Arizona desert on a batch of 52 balloons, including one tech-heavy payload “balloon.” That special yellow sphere, complete with its own HVAC setup, made Blaine’s 50-foot-tall cluster of orbs an experimental aircraft — a legal designation he needed to do this thing.
To get the go-ahead, Blaine had to become a licensed hot-air balloon pilot. He had no basket for the actual stunt, just a harness.
When Blaine reached his insanely high cruising altitude, he strapped on a parachute and fell/floated back down to earth.
The stunt, which was recently moved from New York City to Arizona and delayed by a few days, was very reminiscent of 2009 Disney-Pixar animated movie “Up.” This morning’s launch was delayed a bit due to inclement weather. Blaine took off at 10:56 a.m. ET/7:56 a.m. PT. He landed at 11:52 a.m. ET/8:52 a.m. PT.
Readers can relive the whole thing via the video above.
At its peak, over 770,000 concurrent viewers tuned in, making it the most-watched YouTube Originals LIVE event to date. It topped the 665,000 peak concurrents that watched the star-studded “Dear Class of 2020” graduation event earlier this summer.
“David Blaine exceeded expectations once again!” said Susanne Daniels, Global Head of Original Content, YouTube, “What an inspirational moment for viewers all around the world and we’re so thrilled with what he accomplished today live on YouTube.”
Here’s the logline YouTube used in the marketing materials leading up to launch: David Blaine redefines magic once again for an unprecedented live event at a time when the world could use a positive distraction. Bringing wonder, hope and untethered possibility, David tackles his most ambitious and revolutionary feat yet.
The 47-year-old illusionist is known for taking on high-endurance feats, like burying himself alive in an underground, water-surrounded box for seven days and encasing himself in a block of ice for several hours in Times Square.
Blaine’s Navy S.E.A.L.-esque breathing techniques came in handy for this one, as the magician had to ward off hypoxia (a dangerous condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply at the tissue level).
His seemingly non-human tolerance to withstand cold temperatures also proved to be key, despite being above the desert at the end of summer. That high up, temperatures dropped to as low as 1 degree Fahrenheit.