An Alberta man’s wild lawn chair balloon ride has earned him thousands of dollars in fines, but he insists “we knew what we were doing.”
Daniel Boria, 27, made headlines in July 2015 after strapping more than 100 industrial-sized helium balloons to a chair and floating up into Calgary airspace. The move was part of a publicity stunt for his cleaning service.
His plan was reportedly to end the flight by parachuting down into the Calgary Stampede’s chuckwagon racetrack, but high winds forced him to drop down to land prematurely.
— Tom Warne (@tomwarne) July 6, 2015
As the Calgary Sun reports, Boria’s flight over the city soon attracted the attention of the Calgary International Airport’s air traffic control, who were able to track his path until he went out of sight and upwards to approximately 2,133 metres (7,000 feet) in the clouds.
Now, Boria is paying the price for his amateur aviation efforts. At a sentencing hearing on March 17, Judge Bruce Fraser handed the man a $5,000 fine and $1,500 victim fine surcharge, alongside an agreed upon $20,000 donation to the Veteran’s Food Bank.
“This stunt was extremely dangerous for a number of obvious reasons,” Fraser said during the sentencing, noting that Boria had no means of contacting air traffic control as two jets passed underneath him during his flight.
Not only is it estimated that Boria may have reached a height of approximately 4,267 metres (14,000 feet), but he was also accused of endangering his life and the lives of others during the stunt by crossing over several commercial airplane flight paths out of Calgary International Airport.
“The offender had no control over this contraption,” Fraser said in court. “The stunt was unconscionably stupid.”
Boria did apologize to the judge during the sentencing, saying he acknowledged the danger his amateur flight caused. But afterwards, when speaking to media outside the courtroom, he seemed to downplay the seriousness of his offence.
“I have remorse, I understand that we did cause a little bit of danger, but at the same time, when you text and drive, they don’t charge you as if you’ve hit a whole bus of kids,” he said.
“We planned the whole thing out really well,” Boria explained.
“(They) didn’t charge the Wright brothers,” he added, referring to the famous pioneers of manmade flight.