US Daredevil David Blaine floats nearly 8km into sky with jumbo helium balloons

David Blaine is swept into the sky by large balloons filled with helium.
David Blaine is swept into the sky by large balloons filled with helium. Photo credit: Youtube/ David Blaine

Daredevil David Blaine performed his latest stunt on Wednesday, ascending nearly 25,000 feet (7600 meters) into the Arizona sky while hanging from a cluster of jumbo-sized balloons before parachuting safely back to earth.

"It's like magic, it feels like I'm floating in the air," Blaine said on a radio to his team of aides back on the ground after gently lifting off from a desert airstrip in Page, Arizona, connected to dozens of balloons in an event he called "Ascension".

YouTube said the stunt, which it live streamed, set a new record as the most-watched YouTube Originals live event ever with over 770,000 viewers.

Blaine gradually dropped small weights to speed his ascent, donned a parachute mid-flight and strapped on an oxygen mask as he neared 24,900 feet, an altitude where most commercial airliners travel.

Blaine, 47, has a history of performing high-profile and high-risk feats of endurance. His stunts include locking himself in a fish bowl, trapping himself in a block of ice for two days in Times Square, and standing freely atop a thin, tall pillar for 35 hours in New York City.

Wednesday's stunt lasted roughly 30 minutes. Blaine released himself from the balloon cluster and free-fell for some 30 seconds before deploying a parachute to slow his descent.

"Wow, that was awesome," Blaine yelled into his radio as he stood back on land.

Blaine has said he trained for the event for two years, including becoming a licensed pilot. It was his first live broadcast stunt since 2012.