Remember Mary Poppins, that lovable nanny played by Julie Andrews in the 1964 movie adaptation of P.L. Travers’ children books? Growing up I always asked myself if floating around with an umbrella was possible in real life. Now, thanks to the stunt of extreme athlete Erik Roner, I finally have an answer.
I remember wanting to climb on to the roof of my parents’ house to test out Mary Poppins’ umbrella-powered traveling technique, but as crazy as that sounds to me today, it’s nothing to the stunt pulled by Erik Roner. The famous daredevil teamed up with camera maker GoPro to conduct a “retro-tech” experiment and see if Mary Poppins was actually more than a delightful fairy tale. Using a sturdy garden umbrella instead of a parachute, he jumped out of a hot air balloon, over Southern California. “We’re gonna see if an umbrella actually slows you down, like Mary Poppins’ does…What am I thinking?” Erik says before detaching the umbrella from the supporting balloon and starting his descent. For a few moments, his umbrella flight seems quite smooth, but the pressure of the air ultimately turns it inside out and tears the fabric to shreds.