Party-Balloon Aeronaut Priest Missing in Brazil

Priest raising money for his parish drifts out to sea
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2008 3:55 AM CDT

(Newser) – Rescuers in boats and helicopters are searching off the coast of Brazil for a priest who vanished while trying to set a world record for the longest flight with helium-filled party balloons, AP reports. The priest took off from the northeastern city of Paranagua in a chair with hundreds of balloons attached. He was last heard from 30 miles offshore.

Searchers have found pieces of balloons, but the 41-year-old priest was wearing a helmet and thermal suit, and is an expert skydiver. "We are absolutely confident he will be found alive and well, floating in the ocean," a parish official said. "He was prepared for any kind of mishap." The flight was also being used to raise funds for a spiritual rest-stop for truckers.