Lifestyle & Belief

'Up' aviator Jonathan Trappe tries to cross Atlantic suspended by hundreds of helium balloons, fails


Hot-air balloons fly over Chambley-Bussieres, eastern France, to try to set a world record with 408 balloons in the sky, on July 31, 2013, as part of the yearly event 'Lorraine Mondial Air Balloons,' an international air-balloon meeting.



American aviator Jonathan Trappe looked like a familiar sight when he began a record-breaking flight on Thursday, floating across the Atlantic while suspended from 370 helium-filled balloons.

The 39-year-old IT project manager and cluster ballooning specialist was the first person to cross the Channel and the Alps by helium balloons, afterall.

Sadly, his transatlantic hopes were cut short 12 hours and 350 miles into the journey because of technical issues. Trappe landed safely in Newfoundland, Canada, after posting on his Facebook, "Hmm this doesn't look like France."

His latest trip, which he began in a small yellow lifeboat, was going to take anywhere from three to five days over 2,500 miles. He was planning to land somewhere between Iceland and Morocco. His balloons would allow him to climb as high as 25,000 feet into the air, and he planned to pop or release them to descend.

After landing on "The Rock," it was a team of CBC News journalists who found him. They had chartered a helicopter to film his exploits, and ended up getting great visuals of his forced landing.

"I've never been so glad to see the media," Trappe told CBC's Lindsay Bird.

Until that point, he'd sparked imaginations across the world.

"Two years of work comes down to tonight, and then this flight," Trappe, whose flight is reminiscent of the Disney film "Up," wrote on his website before lifting off. "Two years of work, and years more of dreams. My heart could never live a long life the way it is beating now."

Before the launch, Trappe kept a close eye on state-of-the-art weather data from the same meteorologist who consulted on Felix Baumgartner's stratosphere skydive last year.

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

"It was nail-biting waiting for a weather window that would allow me to get up into the air and catch those transatlantic winds we'd been seeing. I need to get on them and ride them across like a conveyor belt."

Trappe already holds the record for the longest ever cluster balloon flight, which lasted 14 hours. While the lifeboat was his vessel this time around, he previously floated through the air strapped to an office chair.

Watch a video of Trappe's launch:

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