How some crazy guys slacklined a hot air balloon

Highliner Tancrède Melet and filmmaker Seb Montaz give us the lowdown on the video going viral.
© MontazRosset Film
By Tarquin Cooper

It's the latest film from the Skyliners team who have already made a name for themselves with their quirky, daring and outlandish highlining adventures. This time the so-called Flying Frenchies headed to Igualada, Spain to attempt a highline between two ballooons at 800m. We caught up with filmmaker Seb and highliner Tancrède to hear what happened — and why they're determined to try again.

It was mostly a question of common sense and calculation.

Tancrède Melet slacklining between hot air balloons near Igualada and the Serrat del Montsec in Spain
A curious place to hang out. © MontazRosset Film

So what time of night did you come up with this idea?
TM: Ha ha. We are a group of five to 10 people with backgrounds in climbing, highlining, BASE and circus. We are a lot of creative minds and we are always coming up with interesting ideas. Julien Millot and me are former engineers. When it's time to put something into action, we help achieve that.

Tancrède Melet slacklining between hot air balloons near Igualada and the Serrat del Montsec in Spain
This is what we call a walk above the clouds. © MontazRosset Film

So what was involved in this?
TM: Actually it was not so logistical. We had a very simple slackline set-up and had no backup rope in case the slackline broke. It was mostly a question of common sense and calculation.

Common sense? Really? But in the end, the numbers didn't stack up...
TM: We only had one try because of bad weather. The slackline was also so loose we called it a rodeo line. Normally we need a tension of 100kg per 10m and we had less than 100kg for 15m. When the fabric of the ballooons touched, that also made the slackline looser. The balloons were also constantly turning so the horizon was not still which made it hard to balance. Next time maybe we use a security leash so we can have another try.

Tancrède Melet slacklining between hot air balloons near Igualada and the Serrat del Montsec in Spain
This slackline was naturally lacking in tension. © MontazRosset Film

So there will be a next time?
TM: I'm confident it's possible. We want to do it again.

Seb, your films are always big hits. What's your secret?
SM: To me what's important is not the performance; that's not my thing. My background is as a mountain guide and I've always filmed people. The thing for me is to try and capture the emotions of people. It's the same with highliners. I'm fascinated by their characters. It's their story, rather than what they do.

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