Long before Pixar’s “UP,” adults and children alike imagined what it would feel like to be carried away by a bunch of helium balloons. How many balloons would it take to actually lift a person off the ground?
Scientists have made those calculations, of course, but now the average person can personally experience what it’s like to fly by helium. All it takes is 60 euros, a reasonable tolerance of heights and a trip to Écausseville, France.
The small town in the Normandy region of northwestern France is home to the Aéroplume, a helium-filled blimp that allows adults and children over 7 years of age to live the dream of helium balloon flight.
The Aéroplume holds just one person, who gets attached to the balloon with a harness. It also includes wings you can flap to move around using just the strength of your arms.
Unfortunately, you can’t fly away into the clouds like the house in “UP,” as the Aéroplume is housed indoors in an old military hangar that was used to hold a blimp. Within that space, flyers can flap their wings and move around at 5 to 8 km/h (around 3 to 8 mph), experiencing flight in a way that few humans ever have.
YouTube star Tom Scott shared his experience trying out the Aéroplume and his childlike joy is delightful to watch.
More than 10,000 flights and zero accidents? Impressive.
The 60 euro cost gets you 30 minutes in the hangar, with 20 minutes of actual flight time and 10 minutes for lift and steering instruction and for getting in and out of the harness.
If you find yourself in France, consider adding the Aéroplume to your itinerary and make all your childhood flying dreams come true.