This story, including the video, may be too graphic for some.
MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. - A man took human suspension to new heights this weekend when he allowed hooks to be inserted into his back and was then lifted nearly 11,000 feet into the air by a hot air balloon.
The stunt was part of a Portland film production company's filming of a feature-length documentary called Feet Off the Ground. Planning for the hot air balloon ride took about two years.
"This balloon suspension is really the culmination of several years of immersing ourselves in the body modification and suspension communities," Matt Morgan, co-founder of film production company Precarious Egg and one of the producers of the film, said in a press release describing the project.
"People inside this community are frequently misrepresented, with the media typically going for the shock value," said Sean Devine, also a co-founder of Precarious Egg and one of the film's producers. "The film is set largely in beautiful natural locations with the intention of exploring what else is there, to look beyond the shock value. The irony of this event is that the shock value is there - suspending from a balloon thousands of feet in the air - but we hope that the scenic beauty of the spectacle will soften what's often seen as something brutal, as well as encourage people to watch the whole film, to see the true community of suspension."
The man who was suspended is 34-year-old Zane Whitmore of Seattle (he used to live in Portland). He was pierced four times across his shoulder blades and the balloon was released over California's Long Valley Caldera. The flight, which was on Saturday, lasted about 75 minutes.
"I felt like I was flying," Whitmore said in the press release. "It was amazing to have a perspective on a landscape that no one has had before. As I drifted down low I was struck by the movement I saw on the ground, by how much life exists in the desert. It was actually a very peaceful experience."
The film production company plans to wrap up filming by the end of the summer and premiere Feet Off the Ground in 2012.
Note: Video is a press clip from Precarious Egg that was posted on YouTube.