Lost Brazilian ballooning priest carried into the blogosphere

Brazil is an unusual place. The country is full of unconventional people, capable of performing extraordinary feats, which nowadays can get reported in peculiar ways by an ever-growing crowd of unique bloggers. This time the story is rather sad, but the blogosphere is exploding with humorous takes on the tragedy of a Brazilian Roman Catholic priest who is missing after drifting out to sea while trying to set a record for a flight using helium-filled party balloons.

The goal of Father Adelir Antonio de Carli was to break the 19-hour record for remaining aloft using only party balloons, in order 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.

Planes, helicopters and boats from Brazilian rescue forces have been out along the coast of Santa Catarina state looking for the balloon-flying priest all week. Surely, a religious person gone missing during a charity stunt deserves the highest respect, but the lack of elementary safety features in Father de Carli’s plan to accomplish his endeavor has unleashed an unstoppable stream of humorous lines, although not without some guilty thoughts about them.

Would it be comic if it were not tragic? I say that it can be tragic and comic. Here we have the ‘tragi-comedies’ that won’t let me lie. Please, agree with me before I go on! — IT IS COMIC! (so here is a bold and gratuitous appeal to share the heavy weight in my consciousness for having seen so much comedy in all this).
Peter Pan PriestFossas do Ofício

So, the amount of jokes over this priest who decided to fly tied to balloons filled with helium is not contained in the sacred scriptures…. Moreover, the flying priest’s last feat was the topic-of-the-day in a debate I had with a friend who studies journalism and lives in Rio. The father’s imprudence, from being so bizarre, ends up as risible. How does someone wanting to fly with party balloons in completely unfavorable weather, without knowing at least how to operate a gps — really folks?
How to use a gps?Como usar um gps?de tudo um pouco

Indeed, the last contact made by the priest through a satellite cell phone was a request for someone who could teach him how to operate the GPS he had taken with him, so that he could give his actual coordinates. Even the uber-geek folks at Gizmodo could not keep from gaily commenting the tech aspect in the case.

Sadly, nobody was able to explain to him how to do it correctly and, around 9PM—the time of his last contact—he disappeared. I see this sad event, which has ended in the tragedy of a missing person—obviously he’s a bit crazy and this is all his fault—as an example of all that is wrong with the design of machines today. Not because technology itself was the cause of him getting lost—it wasn’t. It was more bad luck and bad planning than anything else. After all, his first flight was a success without GPS, and men have been wandering through Earth without any help for thousands of years. The problem here is that I can imagine his frustration, trying to make sense of an infernal device so he could tell people his exact location, all the while knowing that he was going to get lost forever in the immensity of the sea.
Priest Takes Off Using Party Balloons, GPS to Find God (Literally)Gizmodo

Searchers have already found many of the balloons stretched over an area 50 km away from the coast of Santa Catarina state, but no signs of the cleric, who was wearing a helmet, aluminum thermal flight suit, water-proof overalls and a parachute. Friends and relatives still believe that the priest was well prepared for unexpected events, and that there is big chance that he is still alive. Yet, other accounts tell about the priest’s daring and exhibitionist personality, that would disregard safety measures and trample upon any obstacle standing on his way to broad recognition.

Father Adelir de Carli (41) was expelled from the free flight course Vento Norte [North Wind] 3 years ago, in Curitiba [Parana State], for his exhibitionism and lack of discipline. This is what Marcio Andre Lichtnow — the instructor of the para-glider course attended by the priest — tells us… “He was undisciplined and would not attend the theory classes, which are basic for the comprehension of the meteorological issues. He was not humble at all, having an inflated view of himself, the know-it-all guy. He looked like a playboy”, says Lichtnow. The instructor says the Father attended 10 hours of practical lessons and 4 hours of theory. In order to complete the course, he would need 40 hours of practice and 30 hours of theory. Lichtnow tells also that the priest sought him to talk about his plans to fly from Paranagua. “I told him that if he flew from there, the only place he could land it would be South Africa, because there is where the winds blow to. But he said he had already figured out everything, and I thought he was joking”, he remembers. “I became much less Catholic after meeting this priest”, sums up the flight instructor, who is very clear in dissociating the priest from his flight school. “He tried to be my student, but he was not accepted”.
Another Brazilian in ‘Lost’Dona Didi

There is a possibility that the priest’s careless attitude for his own safety gave license to or even triggered the strong flow of comic responses seen in the Brazilian blogosphere concerning the unusual circumstances contributing to his disappearance. Last time we checked, Father Adelir had even acquired a fake blog called ‘Imaginary Diary of a Flying Priest‘, and Julio Vedovatto plays with the possible media headlines around the world reporting about the priest’s stunt:

– The New York Times: Priest goes up, the market goes down.

  • O Globo: Aerial Chaos: Pilot confirms ‘near collision’ with priest.
  • Bogotá Daily: Missing priest maybe a FARC prisoner now.
  • Madrid Gazette: Zapatero Declares: If priest tries to enter Spain, he will be deported.
  • La Paz Diary: Evo Morales talks with Priest, seeks adjustment on gas prices to refill balloons.
  • Little Diary: Crazy Priest Gets away with the Balloons of Kids’ Party.
  • Corrieri de la Cera: Vatican supports ballons, but keeps condemning preservatives.
  • Washington Post: Hillary vs. Obama: Priest will decide the contest.
  • Beijing News: Chinese government seizes images of the priest’s balloon landing in Tibet and affirms there was no violence.
  • Beijing News (Extra Edition): Chinese government announces that the priest is already rehearsing for the opening of the Olympic Games.
  • Israel: Hezbolah declares that the “flying priest” is a Moaomé mockery and promises new terrorist attacks.
  • Correio Braziliense: Opposition talks about evidence that the balloons were bought with governement credit cards.
  • Ecuador Daily: Government confirms that ballons were shot down by Colombian forces and demands explanations.


Newspapers around the world, about the balloon priest
Julio Vedovatto

In fact, the story of the Brazilian priest and his balloons has really echoed abroad, and the tragicomic results among bloggers seems to be the same. The event is already listed as a candidate for the ‘Darwin Awards‘, an initiative to ‘reward people who remove themselves from the gene pool voluntarily by accidentally killing themselves in stupid ways’, and ‘The spoof‘ has a headline that says: “Al Qaeda accepts responsibility for missing balloon priest“.

Almost a week after the disappearance the priest’s family still believes that he will be found, as the seat was lined with air-tight pockets that can be pumped up and there are several islands in the region that he could have washed up on. Indeed, one of the most circulated satires of the case toys with the fact that the priest might have landed on a very well-known island, where others are already Lost.


Another Brazilian in Lost

[Rodrigo Santoro, a Brazilian actor, joined Lost’s cast during it’s third season]

We hope and pray still for the success of the continuing search efforts and that we may have the opportunity to share stories about the viral media phenomenon triggered by his exploits and good laughs with the Father himself. Meanwhile, the blogosphere continues to balloon with the story.

Padre Perdido Reloaded
Where is the priest?

Locais que o Padre louco dos balões “avuo”!
Places the crazy balloon priest has visited


Father Adelir makes appearence on Google Maps

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