Helium Balloons Lift Aviator Jonathan Trappe Up For Transatlantic Trip

Photo Credit: Paul Cyr / Barcroft USA

Photo Credit: Paul Cyr / Barcroft USA

An American aviator has begun the first attempt to cross the Atlantic suspended by hundreds of coloured balloons. Jonathan Trappe took off from Caribou, Maine, on Thursday morning as his capsule was lifted by 370 helium-filled balloons in heavy fog and he headed east from the US.

The concept may sound like the story from the Disney film Up but Trappe, 39, specializes in cluster ballooning and was the first person to cross the Channel and the Alps using the method.

The transatlantic trip could be as long as 2,500 miles (4,000km) and take between three and five days. Depending on the weather, he could land anywhere between Iceland and Morocco.

Trappe is relying on state of the art weather data from the meteorologist who advised Felix Baumgartner on his record-breaking skydive from the stratosphere last year. The latest weather reports suggested winds would take Trappe to western Europe.

“Weather is absolutely the most dangerous factor,” said Trappe, speaking immediately before launch. ” It’s the only thing that will carry me across, but bad conditions could also ruin the attempt or endanger my life.”

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  • tjl

    He already landed due to “technical difficulties”.
    He was going in the wrong direction and he was having extreme elevation problems, rapidly going up and down.
    It seems that he and his team still haven’t figured out two simple things that used to be taught in middle school science class.
    1. Weather is almost completely unpredictable, so you have to plan for variations.
    2. Helium balloons change properties at different temperatures and altitudes, which is why he experienced the yoyo affect. Not sure if he will ever be able to figure that out.
    He’s obviously a product of our wonderful educational system, which means that he’s lucky to be alive and to have even had the imagination and motivation to get as far as he has.