Noteworthy

Cluster flight: Raleigh man attempts Atlantic crossing

Posted September 13, 2013

— Hundreds of multicolored balloons were used Thursday to launch a balloonist for a trans-Atlantic crossing that looked like a page taken from the script of the movie "Up."

But within 24 hours, North Carolina native Jonathan Trappe was back on the ground, his dream of an Atlantic crossing at least on hold.

Trappe, an IT manager from Raleigh, lifted off using more than 300 helium-filled balloons, like those used in in the animated movie, with a goal of spending up to a week aloft, riding wind currents that could take him to northern Africa or Norway.

Trappe's goal is to float across the ocean. He completed a trip across the English Channel in 2010.

"The Atlantic Ocean has been crossed many times, and in many ways, but never quite like this," Trappe said on his website, which detailed his efforts.

Caribou, Me., City Manager Austin Bleess said about 150 volunteers assisted in filling the helium balloons starting Wednesday night. Trappe and his balloons lifted off from a foggy softball field near the Canadian border at sunrise Thursday.

"Man, it was awesome," Bleess said. "It was amazing to watch."

On Thursday night, Trappe wrote on his Facebook page that he had landed safely at a remote location and would spend the night there. Tracking software showed he was in Newfoundland, near a place called Blow Me Down Provincial Park.

Trappe's friend, Paul Wilder, told WRAL News Friday morning, "As you know, Jonathan, (who I sometimes refer to as 'Mr. Up') is down."

Canadian Police say he reported having trouble controlling the balloons, forcing him to land.

Trappe is no stranger to the cluster balloons. He's used them to fly in an office chair, and he's used them to lift a faux house, just like in the Disney-Pixar movie. For his trans-Atlantic crossing, he rigged as his basket a lifeboat that could be used if he had to ditch in the ocean.

Trappe worked on the trans-Atlantic crossing for two years and hoped to be the first person to succeed in doing so with a cluster of balloons. 

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  • nick14 Sep 18, 2013

    Every year we some some wacky student involving helium balloons. So many of them end in failure and sadly sometimes loss of life. It's probably now time to stop these wacky stunts and come up with a better idea. As someone who works in the balloon industry it's sad to see the huge huge amount of helium gas wasted on a failure. Helium resources are finite and as a result of such silly stunts, the supply becomes staggered in the industry and pushes up the basic cost. Crazy, thoughtless time-wasting idea.
    Nick
    Balloon Company Owner
    www.custom.uk.net

  • jeffnnc Sep 13, 2013

    so after reading all of that, why did he land early? -mfarmer1
    From the article:
    Canadian Police say he reported having trouble controlling the balloons, forcing him to land.

  • beachboater Sep 13, 2013

    " peaceful protests or commemorations rarely get much coverage for the simple reason they didn't do anything disruptive- they were peaceful and didn't cause a problem, where's the news in that?" dwntwnboy2

    Have you been asleep under a rock? What about the daily / weekly coverage of Moral Mondays. They claimed to be peaceful. It's just a simple misunderstanding of the law. That's the only reason the Moral Monday crowd was arrested. After several months, the Moral Monday crowd still didn't understand they would be arrested for disrupting the legislature while in session.

  • GravyPig Sep 13, 2013

    "Not sure this guy really did his homework."

    Maybe you should do yours first. Here let me help...

    http://www.clusterballoon.com/

    Check it. Maybe you'll learn that Mr. Trappe knows quite a bit more than you do about balloons. He certainly doesn't stop by the Kroger to fill up a bag of .99 cent party balloons.

  • mfarmer1 Sep 13, 2013

    so after reading all of that, why did he land early?

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Sep 13, 2013

    To the few negative comments, life has a lot more to do with do what you enjoy than money or a job. If he can make his hobby work, good for him! And I enjoy reading stories like this. Life is not all about politics and war either.

  • mm23 Sep 13, 2013

    well, we all have our dreams. But really....the bouguet of balloons I bought for my daughter lasted 1 day. Maybe next time try Mylar? Not sure this guy really did his homework.

  • jcthai Sep 13, 2013

    Getreal7, the magic of a balloon is that as long as you maintain a constant altitude, you will be traveling with the wind, no matter how fast. You could be going 100mph in the jet stream but there won't be a hint of a sound because you are going exactly the same speed as the air around you.

  • westernwake1 Sep 13, 2013

    "1.2 Million Bikers descent on Washington DC yesterday to commemorate 9/11 and received zero coverage, but this tripe deserves headlines?"- peaceful protests or commemorations rarely get much coverage for the simple reason they didn't do anything disruptive- they were peaceful and didn't cause a problem, where's the news in that?"

    'actually they went to DC to protest the Million Muslim March that never happened' - 99percenters

    That's odd. The Million Muslim March had 56 people signed up on Facebook to attend the event to promote terrorism.

    It is kind of them to do this. Now the FBI knows exactly who to pick up and ship to Gitmo.

  • dwntwnboy2 Sep 13, 2013

    "Stupid and obscene attempt at a play on words with your headline. Just how juvenile is the WRAL staff becoming? Pair this up with the inane "What's trending?" ummm 'news' segment and you have really established a benchmark for others."- you could always stop reading, or choose another site if this one is causing you so much anguish. What's wrong with a little word play for fun. It's a light hearted story- it ain't war or politics at least!!

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