News / Canada

Video and Q&A with Calgary 'Balloon Guy' Dan Boria on his lawn-chair flight and arrest

[youtube= w=618]

Calgary entrepreneur Dan Boria literally launched a publicity stunt Sunday evening that saw him land him all over local – and international – media.

It also landed him in hot water with police. (Scroll to the end for a Q&A with Boria.)

The 26-year-old was arrested "without incident" upon landing, according to Calgary police, who charged him with mischief the stunt, in which Boria allegedly attached dozens of helium balloons to a lawn chair, sat in the contraption, flew high above the city, and eventually abandoned his makeshift aircraft and parachuted to safety.

The launch took place at about 7:30 p.m., according to police, and the unusual sight first caught the attention of witnesses in northwest Calgary who "observed the man manoeuvre the chair south towards the downtown area."

Boria said he was trying to land at the Stampede grounds but missed his target, and ended up parachuting down into a "jagged, rocky" green space between Highfield Bouleveard and Ogden Road SE, suffering a minor injury in the process.

Insp. Kyle Grant described the stunt as "very irresponsible."

“He’s flying over a city of 1.2 million, heading towards the Stampede grounds: hundreds of thousands of people," Grant said. "The last thing we want to see is anybody injured.”

Police were also concerned about the potential for the abandoned chair to cause injury or property damage when it eventually came back down to Earth, Grant said.

The entire undertaking was an admitted attempt at advertising for Boria's cleaning company.

Calgary resident John Smiley, who briefly started then took down a GoFundMe campaign Monday to help Boria pay any potential fines, described the stunt as "interesting, but pretty stupid," and deserving of some respect in a modern, bubble-wrapped culture that tries to eliminate risk at the expense of fun.

"Man, we live in a safe world these days and people don't do enough unsafe, entertaining things," Smiley said. "This is a great combination of treacherous and entertaining."

Smiley noted he "has no idea who this guy is" and has no connection to Boria other than enjoying the stunt for its entertainment value.

Boria was released from police custody and Grant said he'll "most likely" face a fine, rather than jail time, but the financial penalty could be substantial.

“When all is said and done, I think it would have been cheaper for him to rent a billboard,” Grant said.

What possessed him to do it? Q & A with Calgary ‘Balloon Guy’ Dan Boria

Q: How are you feeling today?

A: "I haven’t slept. They let me out of prison and I've been doing interviews ever since."

Q: Do you have skydiving training?

A: “I started skydiving just do this. I had this idea, and it was a dream that kind of created an obsession."

Q: Why use a lawn chair and helium balloons?

A: “When it started out, I was just going to skydive to the Stampede with a plane banner going by at the same time. And that resulted in me calling every pilot, every helicopter pilot, every hot-air-balloon pilot … and I even went as far as trying to bring up a guy on a work visa from another country, because it wouldn't matter if they took his licence away here. And then I found this."

Q: What kind of lawn chair did you use?

A: "It was just a $19.95 green lawn chair from Canadian Tire."

Q: How bad is your injury?

A: "I’m fine. It's just a foot injury. I don't know if it's broken or not. I can still limp around."

Q: How did it go with the police?

A: "They were super nice and respectful. I was courteous to them, as well. They took it further than I thought they would but, at the same time, some of them just laughed and wanted to shake my hand."

Q: What was your peak altitude during the flight?

A: "I know exactly how high I was but I can't release that information right now. But I had an oxygen tank up there with me."

Q: Why can’t you release that information?

A: "Just due to legal purposes, right now."

Q: Are you from Calgary?

A: "I'm originally from Victoria, B.C. I moved to Calgary just for the opportunity.”

More on