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Jonathan Trappe Fails Attempt To Cross Atlantic Under Cluster Of Helium Ballons

10:35 AM, Sep 13, 2013   |    comments
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Caribou, Maine-- A North Carolina man has failed in his attempt to float across the Atlantic under a cluster of balloons.

Jonathan Trappe's representatives say a technical glitch just 12 hours into his journey forced him to land on a remote part of the Canadian coast, in Newfoundland.

His team says he hunkered down for the night, and they're now making plans to get him home.

The hundreds of multicolored balloons used Thursday to launch Trappe on his trans-Atlantic effort looked like a page taken from the script of the movie "Up."

Instead of using a conventional hot-air balloon, the 39-year-old IT consultant from Raleigh lifted off from Caribou, Maine using more than 300 helium-filled balloons, like those used in the animated movie.

"The Atlantic Ocean has been crossed many times, and in many ways, but never quite like this," the North Carolina native said on his website, which detailed his intentions.

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 in northern Maine, 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 had landed safely at a remote location and would spend the night there. He didn't say at the time where he was.

On hand for Trappe's lift off was Joe Kittinger, a retired Air Force officer who once set a record for jumping from a balloon 19.5 miles up and later became the first solo balloonist to cross the Atlantic in 1984.

As for Trappe, he's 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. In 2010, he crossed the English Channel using a cluster of balloons. For his trans-Atlantic crossing, the basket in which he's riding is actually a lifeboat that could be used if he ditches 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.

The airborne journey was expected to take up to six days, with wind currents possibly bringing him to northern Africa or Norway.

Trappe and his team had waited more than 100 days in Caribou for the right weather conditions to carry him across the Atlantic to Europe.

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