It has been dreamed up and hypothesized ever since the invention of the helium-filled balloon that humans could one day fly using the power contained within them. Even in early films, stars such as Charlie Chaplin have toyed with the idea of holding too many balloons could swipe you off your feet and carry you away. Even one of the latest Disney films,Up, follows the premise of a man tying thousands of balloons onto his house and flying off into oblivion.

Is there any fact supporting these ideas? We looked around to see if it was actually possible to fly using balloons filled with helium – to our surprise, we found one man that traveled almost 50 miles in about 4 hours using a balloon-operated flying machine. Watch the video below to see how it all went down:

 

Upon further investigation, we found that the team over at HowStuffWorks.com have actually calculated a mathematical equation for determining how many balloons it would take to lift an average person. According to their research, helium has a lifting force of 1 gram per liter. So if the average-sized party balloon can hold 14 liters of helium, it can lift 14 grams of weight.

Therefore, they have determined that if you weigh around 110 pounds (that would be 50 kilograms), than you technically weigh 50,000 grams; you then divide your weight by the amount lifted by the balloon – 14 grams – and you can figure you’ll need about 3,571.42 balloons to lift you off the ground.

That seems like an unreasonable amount of balloons, but if you use 10-foot wide army-surplus balloon instead, that size could hold approximately 14,137 liters, and it would only take about 4 of those to get you lifted. It seems that’s the more common way to soar through the air these days, instead of attempting to string together a 20,000-piece balloon bouquet.

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(Image Source: Joe Kline)

 

So after centuries of dreaming of soaring through the sky in a sea of colorful rubber, the 20th century has proved humans now can join the birds in the air, while strung to just a handful of weak balloons and hoping lightning doesn’t strike.

 

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Ryan Tindrick
Ryan Tindrick
Filmmaker; a writer, a director, a producer, a cinematographer, a visual designer, a photographer, an actor, an editor, and some days... just a grip.