Jun 8, 2023 | History

The Brazilian Priest Who Tied Himself To 1,000 Balloons And Vanished

Morgan Collier

Morgan Collier

On 20 April 2008, Father Adelir Antonio de Carli set out from the Brazilian port city of Paranagua with the hope of breaking the record for the longest time spent in the air attached to helium-filled balloons.

The Roman Catholic priest’s motivation for the stunt was to fundraise for a “spiritual rest stop for truckers” at his local parish.

Was The Priest Well Equipped?

For the challenge, Rev. de Carli wore a sturdy helmet, an aluminum thermal flight suit, and waterproof coveralls to protect him from the elements.

Additionally, he carried with him a GPS tracker and radio, which he could use to inform air traffic control of his precise location should the need arise.

With ample food provisions also at his disposal, he was well-equipped to endure the journey ahead.


It’s noteworthy that de Carli was no novice in this venture, being a seasoned skydiver. He had previously attempted a similar feat in January of that same year, using 600 balloons to soar for four hours and climb to an altitude of 17,390 feet.

Unfortunately, on his second attempt to set a new record, things took a tragic turn. After eight hours of flying, the priest vanished without a trace, leaving behind a sense of uncertainty and dread.

What Went Wrong?

Two days following his disappearance, a sighting of multicoloured balloons was reported in the ocean close to the location where de Carli had last made contact off the southern Santa Catarina state of Brazil, which offered a glimmer of hope to the rescue teams for locating the man alive.

Despite using planes, helicopters, and rescue teams for extensive search efforts, they could not locate him.

Burak The Weekender/Pexels

Regrettably, it wasn’t until July 2008 that Rev de Carli’s remains were discovered off the southeastern coast of Brazil.

DNA analysis verified his identity, and it was revealed that he had encountered difficulties with his GPS device and had been blown off course by strong winds.

Before communication was lost, de Carli had expressed concerns about “losing altitude,” and it is believed that he had achieved an elevation of 20,000 feet before descending to 8,200 feet for his intended flight to Dourados.