Extreme Athlete Dies Setting Up Hot Air Balloon Stunt

Tancrede Melet, 32, was 'at arm's length' from the basket when he fell 100 feet
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2016 9:22 AM CST

A French extreme sportsman described by the Inertia as an "inspiration to the working man" has died at the age of 32 after a hot air balloon stunt backfired, ABC News reports. Tancrede Melet, part of a daredevil group known as the Flying Frenchies, was setting up the stunt in a small town in southeastern France when the balloon that he and other members of his crew were anchored into lifted off. Melet wasn't able to release his anchor, the site adds, and when it did finally give, he was dangling "at arm's length" from the basket and fell about 100 feet to the ground, NBC News reports. "[Tancrede] Melet, an amazing lover of life, surprised us yesterday morning in us leaving too fast," his teammates posted on his Facebook page Wednesday, noting the stunt was part of an "artistic project." "He leaves behind wonderful memories, a taste of freedom and [a head] full of dreams."

Melet, described on various sites as an accomplished climber, tightrope walker, kayaker, BASE jumper, and wingsuiter, didn't start out as a full-time adventurer. He was an engineer for four years before deciding to more fully indulge his adrenaline fix, the Inertia notes, and he literally jumped right into things once he committed himself, performing such stunts as "high-lining" between skyscrapers and cable cars and BASE jumping off of Mont Blanc. "In Love with circus and acrobatic performance, he was the leader of the … Flying Frenchies with whom he pushed the limits," his colleagues wrote on Facebook. Melet leaves behind his partner, Tiphaine Breillot, and his young child, Leonie, they add. (Read more hot air balloon stories.)

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