Doh! Balloon escapes without parachutist occupant

Balloon blows away free fall record bid

French skydiver Michel Fournier’s bid for a record-breaking parachute jump from Earth’s stratosphere was aborted Tuesday when the balloon that was to carry him into the far reaches of the sky slipped away from his flight crew.

The former paratrooper had hoped to set new records for the highest jump, fastest free fall, longest free fall and the highest altitude reached by a man in a balloon. But those hopes drifted away over the plains of Saskatchewan when the balloon escaped.

Still clad in his bright yellow pressure suit, the visibly frustrated Fournier waved away cameras after his ride slipped away shortly after 5 a.m. (7 a.m. ET). There was no immediate word on how the effort was botched, but his flight crew was attempting to recover the balloon, according to his official Web site.

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