A cavalcade of shame!
I was doing some research on Topics (I do love topics), and an errant google search turned up THIS video, which is a live, on the spot, amateur home video taken on the site of David Blaine's most recent publicity stunt. Apparently in this one, he hung upside down for 50 minutes an hour for 60 hours, and then...was lowered and raised on a cable. (Enjoy the shouts of 'are you serious?' at the 2:05 mark)
"Okay," thought I, "so the stunt wasn't impressive in person, but that's what TV magic is for, right? I mean, Criss Angel's tricks must not look like much of anything in person since they're all editing tricks, and anyone who just looked over their shoulder would have realized that David Copperfield didn't really make the Statue of Liberty disappear, right?" So I navigated a series of tubes until I found a capture of the televised version. You can watch that HERE. In this version, instead of a booing crowd, you hear a technician saying things like 'let's go' and 'get him out of there.' But visually....it's just the same.
Now obviously, the 'lift him up so he looks like he flew away' gag was supposed to happen during or just after the blinding flash, so that folks couldn't get a handle on it. But since it did have to absorb a fall, the wires had to be a lot thicker than what Copperfield uses to fly around, so they were just hoping they'd be clear of the lights in time. More of a support staff-related failure.
But then I got to wondering how some of his other stunts have done in comparison, since I'm not much of a Blaine fan, myself. So, we turn to the internets!
So what have we learned? That Blaine's a cheater? That's fine. All magicians are. I'm pretty sure most of them don't get caught at it quite so often though. Even if we believe he actually spends time locked in boxes every so often and really suffers the debilitating results, he's still no Guybrush Threepwood - he could hold his breath for ten minutes!