East Coast Radio DJ Lev David and hot-air balloonist Gary Mortimer set a new South African record on Monday when they reached an altitude of 30 334ft in a hot-air balloon.

But the record attempt, which took place in Estcourt, was not without drama.

After reaching a record height, the balloon plummeted 16 000ft as Mortimer battled to respark the burners. A lack of oxygen had caused the burners to cut off as the balloon reached 20 000ft, although it continued rising.

Eventually, Mortimer managed to fire the burners again, and the pair landed safely.

David became ill because of the lack of oxygen at the high altitude. "I began to lose the use of my hands, and it felt like I was going to pass out," he said.

The altitude record attempt is believed to be the first official attempt in South Africa.