A Calgary man used helium filled balloons to fly over the city on Sunday, risking his life to draw attention to his cleaning products company, and also landing him in trouble with the law.
Daniel Boria pulled off the potentially deadly stunt by attaching about 110 balloons to a lawn chair.
"At one point I was looking up at the balloons, they were popping, the chair was shaking and I was looking down at my feet dangling through the clouds at a 747 flight taking off and a few landing," he said.
"It was incredible. It was the most surreal experience you can ever imagine. I was just by myself on a $20 lawn chair up in the sky above the clouds."
Boria, 26, was detained Sunday evening and released Monday morning. He has been charged with one count of mischief causing danger to life.
"I knew I would get arrested, but I didn't think they would pursue it as heavily as they did," he said. "I've never done anything wrong before and this was with good intentions."
The lawn chair pilot, who said he's a skydiver, intended to parachute himself into the Calgary Stampede.
But the weather didn't co-operate and he missed the grounds, landing a few kilometres away in an industrial field in the city's southeast.
Boria said he sprained his ankle, but was otherwise unharmed, thanks to months of planning. "We did make it as safe as possible for everybody else," he said. "Our end goal was to only put myself in danger."
He said the stunt cost him about $20,000, including hiring an airplane to circle the Stampede grounds with a banner advertising his company.
"You can spend the same marketing dollars on a billboard or a commercial or you can fly a balloon up in the air and jump out. It just seems like more fun, right?" said Boria.
Just saw this floating through the skies of Calgary. Hope it’s not a stampede <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/balloon?src=hash">#balloon</a> vendor out of control. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/yyc?src=hash">#yyc</a> <a href="http://t.co/xcI07rdRw9">pic.twitter.com/xcI07rdRw9</a>—@tomwarne
Police not impressed
Calgary police, who were tracking Boria during Sunday's flight, were not impressed.
"I don't think any publicity stunt is worth your life, nor obviously the life or property of somebody else," said Insp. Kyle Grant.
The charge of mischief is related to the lawn chair, which could cause damage or hurt someone when the balloons pop and it falls to the ground, said Grant. He expects more charges will be laid under the federal Aeronautics Act.
"I think he will end up out-of-pocket quite a bit. It probably would have been cheaper to get a billboard," he said.
"I know that the courts won't look upon this with any sort of jocularity. When you are taking people's safety into account, especially when you are talking about the Stampede — hundreds of thousands of people who are on the grounds in a given day — that's not something that any justice will take lightly at all."
Lots of things could have gone wrong, he said. "I don't want other people to try and emulate this because somebody is going to get hurt."
Officers confiscated Boria's parachute, along with video footage taken during the balloon flight. However, the chair and the balloons are still somewhere up in the air.
"We're in the midst of tracking that down," said friend Conner Shauf, who adds that Boria had practised the stunt the day before.