Man Travels by Helium Balloons

Rides four miles over shark-infested waters


For exclusive access to all of our fitness, gear, adventure, and travel stories, plus discounts on trips, events, and gear, sign up for Outside+ today.

It was a scene that could have come straight from a Pixar movie: On Saturday, a South African man tied himself to 160 helium balloons and floated for an hour a thousand feet above sea level. The only downer was the shark-infested patch of Atlantic Ocean below.  

Matt Silver-Vallance, a 37-year-old office manager, pulled the stunt to raise money for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, which is trying to build a children’s hospital in Johannesburg. He launched at Robben Island, where Mandela had been imprisoned for 18 years during apartheid. Silver-Vallance then traveled four miles strapped to the balloons and wearing only a wetsuit, according to the British publication Metro. 

Nelson Mandela has just completed a 10-day stay at a hospital after a bout of pneumonia. “We all hope, if he sees this story, that it will bring a smile to his face,” Silver-Vallance said. 

promo logo