Priest disappears while on balloon flight to aid truckers

| 4/22/2008

In Brazil, a Roman Catholic priest who was trying to raise money for a spiritual rest stop for truckers was still missing Tuesday after attaching himself to 1,000 helium-filled party balloons and floating off over the ocean on Sunday, April 20.

The Associated Press reported that the Rev. Adelir Antonio de Carli, an accomplished sky-diver, was equipped with a thermal suit, a helmet and a parachute. He also had a GPS device, a satellite phone and a buoyant chair.

Reuters reported that the 42-year-old priest had intended to fly 20 hours due west, but unexpected winds carried him out over the south Atlantic on a southeasterly course. At one point he had soared to an altitude of 20,000 feet.

He had hoped to break the 19-hour record for remaining aloft using only party balloons. His plan was to raise funds for the rest stop for truckers in Paranagua, Brazil’s second-largest port for agricultural products. Brazilian truckers often spend days waiting to unload in the port, especially during the busy soy export season now under way.

Searchers had found pieces of balloons in the water as of Tuesday morning, but no sign of the priest.