The Punchline

National Geographic tests the logic of Pixar’s ‘Up’

Katharine Crnko Mar 8, 2011





Pixar’s “Up” has captured the hearts and minds of adventurers everywhere. Who hasn’t dreamed of simply floating away from life’s routines in search of adventure? What child hasn’t looked at a bunch of balloons and thought, “Is this my chance to fly?”




Well, National Geographic is putting the logic of Pixar’s “Up” to the test in their new television series, “How Hard Can It Be.” In the movie, the septuagenarian curmudgeon Mr. Fredricksen flies his home out of surrounding urban development with the help thousands of colorful party balloons. It was a heartwarming moment of awe-inspiring fiction — or was it?

Scientists, engineers, two balloon pilots and dozens of volunteers from National Geographic gathered in the California desert just east of Los Angeles to put Mr. Fredricksen’s escape method to the test. They built a custom, light-weight home similar to its animated mate, and attached 300 helium-filled weather balloons. Each balloon was 8-feet high and required a full tank of helium to fill. When completed, the house and balloons reached over 10 stories in height.

The result? The house reached 10,000 feet and floated above the desert for almost one hour with two people inside — just like in Pixar’s “Up.”

“We found that it is actually close to impossible to fly a real house,” said Executive producer Ben Bowie.

Producer Ian White added, “But what we can do is kind of fly a light-weight house and fly it safely with people on board.”

You can see more images from National Geographic’s house-launch in our photo gallery. And check out this video from “Good Morning America.”

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