N.C. man attempts ‘Up’-style trans-Atlantic trip

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, September 13, 2013

A North Carolina man took the premise of Disney’s 2009 movie “Up” very literally, embarking Thursday on a trans-Atlantic balloon journey of his own.

Jonathan Trappe, an IT consultant from Raleigh, N.C.,spent 12 hours in the air attached to 370 helium-filled balloons Thursday before being forced to abort his mission due to “technical problems” with the balloons. Trappe managed to fly from Bangor, Maine to Newfoundland, Canada during that period.

“Hmm, this doesn’t look like France,” Trappe wrote on his Facebook page before landing just south of York Harbor, Newfoundland. He did land safely and didn’t need any medical attention, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Trappe had anticipated the entire journey across the Atlantic Ocean would take him three to five days, although he didn’t have a specific landing point picked out ahead of time.

“Thankfully he is safe and well and currently making preparations to get home,” Kevin Knapp, who was working at the command center overseeing the flight, said according to The Telegraph. “While disappointing that he had to cut his quest across the Atlantic short, I know Jonathan thanks everyone for their support and encouragement.”

Trappe had expected that if his journey were to be cut short it would be a direct result of poor weather, not technical glitches. Trappe had actually waited 100 days to launch the trip because of local weather.

The North Carolina native already holds the record for the longest ever cluster balloon flight at 14 hours. He is also the only person to have crossed the English Channel successfully by cluster balloon back in May 2010, as well as and the Alps in September 2011.

Dangling inside a small yellow lifeboat, Trappe had with him 60 liters of water, 38 liters of Gatorade and 60,000 calories-worth of food, as well as shelter and exposure gear. He started planning the trip two years ago. For past trips Trappe used a chair instead of the lifeboat.

Although he is the first to try crossing the Atlantic Ocean attached to helium balloons, five people have died trying to cross the ocean in 12 total attempts using hot air balloons or more conventional single gas balloons.

“The Atlantic Ocean has been crossed many times, and in many ways, but never quite like this,” he said on his website about the trip.

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