Saturday 17 February 2018

Down to earth after Atlantic dream bursts

Jonathan Trappe leaving from Maine in his balloon cluster.
Jonathan Trappe leaving from Maine in his balloon cluster.

Chris Irvine London

An American aviator's attempt to become the first person to cross the Atlantic using 370 helium balloons has ended in failure only 12 hours into the journey.

Jonathan Trappe was forced to make an early landing in Newfoundland, Canada, because of a technical issue.

Mr Trappe (39), an IT project manager, from Raleigh, North Carolina, took off in Maine on Thursday morning on what was expected to be a six-day flight. But he came down to Earth only hours later because of a technical problem relating to the balloons.

"Hmm, this doesn't look like France," he wrote on his Facebook page.

Mr Trappe had been waiting 100 days for the right weather conditions to attempt the flight, with local storms forcing him to stay grounded.

Previous flights have seen him travel in an office chair suspended by the balloons.

This time he elected to dangle inside a small yellow lifeboat in case he ditched in the ocean.

After spending the night – on land – in the boat, he sent a message saying:

"Honestly did not know if I would survive that landing."

He said he had 60 litres of water, 38 litres of Gatorade and 60,000 calories-worth of food, as well as shelter and exposure gear and he would possibly spend another night there and break down the craft.

Five people have died trying to cross the ocean in 12 total attempts using hot-air balloons or more conventional single gas balloons. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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