Hours after taking off from Caribou, Maine, pilot Jonathan Trappe experienced technical difficulties and was forced to land in Newfoundland. Jonathan wasn’t flying a plane or helicopter; he was traveling via cluster balloons.
Much like Carl in the Disney-Pixar film Up, Jonathan is filled with the spirit of adventure. He wrote on his site, Cluster Balloon, before launch:
“I have been looking at an epic challenge — one that honestly may prove to be beyond me. I have been looking at it for years, and I’ve changed my entire life to make it happen. As I write these words, I am in the State of Maine, the jumping-off point for our trans-Atlantic expedition. I left my longtime home, came across country, and worked with my company so I can be here and prepare to fly. Why so much?
Because it will be a flight like no other.”
Jonathan Trappe wanted to be the first person to fly across the Atlantic via cluster balloon. He created a vessel with a lifeboat base and 370 helium balloons attached.
His flight began early Thursday morning from Maine. By Thursday afternoon, BBC reports that Jonathan updated his Facebook page with the message: “In the quiet sky, above the great Gulf of St. Lawrence, traveling over 50mph – in my little yellow rowboat, at 18,000 feet.” Within a few hours, the 39-year-old single IT manager from North Carolina was grounded.
Reading Jonathan’s website detailing the preparation for this flight is curious and fascinating. Writing with a sometimes childlike wonder about generations of adventurers he admires, he seems determined to make cluster balloon travel his life’s work. When asked why he has become the man who travels by small balloons, he simply says: “To live an interesting life. For me, that’s enough. That is the reason now, today, that I fly these systems. To experience the sky — yes, certainly. But, in the end — to live a life that is something I will reflect upon, and I myself will find interesting.”
While I would be in a panic if anyone I was close to attempted to travel this way, you have to admit there is something magical about cluster balloons. While Jonathan details all of the preparation he does for each flight, including extensive weather forecast research, at some point during his flight he does surrender to the way the wind blows.
Image Credit: IMDB
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