Trappe Embarks on First Trans-Atlantic Cluster Balloon Flight
Jonathan Trappe launches on his trans-Atlantic cluster balloon flight Thursday, September 12.
September 12, 2013 - Jonathan Trappe launched his most ambitious flight attempt to date at 6 a.m. Thursday from Caribou, Maine, as he embarks on the first-ever flight in a cluster balloon across the Atlantic Ocean.
Trappe, whose past flights have crossed the English Channel, Lake Michigan (launched from EAA AirVenture 2010), and the Alps, spent the last two years preparing for the flight.
"Two years of work comes down to today, and then this flight," he wrote on his website. "Two years of work, and years more of dreams."
More than 100 volunteers were summoned to the launch site Wednesday evening and spent nine hours inflating some 365 balloons with helium. Trappe estimates it will take from three to six days to cross the ocean, depending on altitude and wind currents. Where will he ultimately land? Anywhere from North Africa, to Portugal, to as far north as Norway. It depends on where the winds take him.
The last manned balloon flight across the Atlantic Ocean launched from the same area - Aroostook County - piloted by aviation legend Col. Joe Kittinger in 1984. Kittinger was on hand this week as an on-site adviser.