Innovation/Global Risk

Can You Fly A House?

By Shlomo  Maital




Art imitates life, but often, life imitates art.  Here is a wild example.

   In 2009 Pixar produced a wonderful animated movie, “Up”, about an elderly widower named Carl Fredricksen and a young Wilderness Explorer named Russell who fly to South America by floating in a house.  The house is ‘flown’ by attaching helium balloons to it.  The movie grossed $731 m., ranking it third for animated films, behind Finding Nemo and Toy Story 3.

   A team of experts/crackpots for the National Geographic cable channel decided to create a real “Up” house.  They built a 2,000-pound 16 ft. by 16 ft. two-story yellow house, attached 300 helium-filled weather balloons to it …and the 10-story structure took off from a private airfield near Los Angeles and ‘flew’ for an hour, reaching a height of 10,000 feet.  And yes, it was manned; two of the channel’s producers were on it, including Paul Carson.  The flight was an episode of an imaginative program, “How Hard Can It Be?”, e.g. how hard can it be to fly a house?  The answer?  Really hard.   It took the team two weeks of trial and error to do the job.