Yes, You Read The Headline Correctly
A spokesman for the FAA says the agency has a few questions
regarding a Canadian artist's plan to send a 1,000-foot-long,
helium-filled banana into the skies over Texas. They're probably
not the only ones.
"I want to bring some humor to the Texas sky," Montreal artist
Cesar Saez explained in a story published Sunday in the San Antonio
Express-News. "This will be the largest airship ever built, and
it's going to stay in the sky longer than any balloon ever did,
using 19th-century technology."
Saez plans to launch his mammoth bamboo and paper dirigible --
dubbed, appropriately enough, the Geostationary Banana Over Texas
project -- from a site in Mexico in summer 2008. The plan calls for
the flying banana to ride the jet stream as it heads east, at
altitudes as high as 20 miles above Earth (meaning those on the
ground would still be able to see it). The balloon would eventually
And yes, he IS serious. Moreover, he's already raised about a
fifth of the estimated $1 million cost for the project, from such
organizations as the Canada Council for the Arts.
"There's no question this is a serious artistic project," said
CCA spokeswoman Donna Balkan. "It's a work of public art, but what
makes this project unusual is that he's using the sky as his venue
rather than a park or street corner."
The organization kicked in $15,000, according to the
Express-News. Michigan-based nearSpace Technology is consulting on
the high-flying project.
Saez, who is well-known in Quebec for
his public works, compares the stratospheric altitudes his balloon
would float across to the high seas -- open to free, unregulated
exploration. But to the FAA, it's Class E airspace.
Just how the agency would handle a flying banana, though, is
open to debate.
"My first reaction is, are you being taken for a ride? I had
some trouble with my folks in Washington, they didn't believe it,"
said FAA Southwest Regional Spokesman Roland Herwig.
"You can't just put an object over the United States without
checking with agencies and organizations," Herwig added. "They'd
have to coordinate with the US Space Command and others, anyone
from homeland security to the FAA, for something that goes to those
A spokesman for Texas Governor Rick Perry says the guv is taking
the proposed use of airspace over his state in good humor.
"If it works, people will probably go ape over it," the
spokesperson stated. "We have to be careful, though, because
putting bananas in orbit could create a slippery situation."