Helium Balloons Lift Car

In this video some guys from New Zealand attach helium balloons to a car until it floats away. Unfortunately, no one is in the car when it floats away. (Though that would have been a good update on the legend of Lawnchair Larry.)

Of course, the video is fake. TV3.co.nz reports that it was digitally edited to remove a crane, which is what actually causes the car to rise into the air. Also, the video turns out to be a viral ad created by Ford "aimed at selling Ford cars to generations X and Y."


Posted on Thu Nov 01, 2007


Mythbusters adressed a similar myth a few years back, about the possibility of a carnival balloon vendor handing enough balloons to a small child (3-4 year old) to lift the child away. They determined that, to lift a typically weighted child of that age would take 3500 balloons or more. They did indeed fill that many balloons, and lift the child. But 3500 balloons is a quite large mass. Determination was that it was just not possible for that many balloons to be handed to a child in an accidental situation.

Anyway, the point is that if it takes 3500 balloons to lift a 3-4 year old child, how many would it take to actually lift a small car? No idea, but it would be a good bit more than was shown in that film. smile
Posted by TexasAndroid  on  Thu Nov 01, 2007  at  09:31 AM
You beat me to it, TexasAndroid. I was just about to say that no way does that photo show enough helium balloons to life a car.

Several years ago, I was the co-host on a wacky morning drive radio show in Boise, Idaho. I got the idea to launch an inflatable woman into the air with helium balloons (the finder won a prize).

I took the blow-up girl to a local party store and started attaching balloons to her. Damn, it took WAY more balloons than I would have predicted to make her weightless.

As a result, I can well believe that it would take 3500 balloons to life a three-year-old and God only knows how many to life a car, even if it didn't have its engine and drivetrain.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Nov 01, 2007  at  06:49 PM
There was a project, in the early to mid 50's I believe, where a single man was carried up in a capsule under a balloon. Once, the man jumped from the capsule and still holds the record for the highest parachute jump. The man and the capsule would weigh less than a car, even a modern one, and the balloon that lifted the capsule was HUGE! Lawnchair Larry used weather balloons and even then he used how many? Three dozen or more? A toy balloon holds, what, one or two cubic feet of helium? Would there even be space on the car to attach the number needed?
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Thu Nov 01, 2007  at  08:48 PM
The density of air is something like 1kg/m3. Then according to good old Archimedes the ballons need to fill a volume (now assuming Helium massless...) of at least 1500 cubic meters - that is 10x10x15 m, kind of far from what the made.
Posted by Bjorn  in  Kiruna  on  Fri Nov 30, 2007  at  11:29 AM
Is that car made of cardboard? It's impossible to lift car with that amount of balloons.
Posted by Lenny  on  Tue Jul 01, 2008  at  02:37 AM
Why yes it is impossible in this case, and that's why it says 'fake' because it's a tv ad...
Posted by Jade.s  in  New Zealand  on  Fri Sep 18, 2009  at  08:05 AM
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