Sunday, May 30, 2010

American First 'Cluster Balloonist' to Cross English Channel

American adventurer, Jonathan Trappe, became the first person to cross the English Channel by helium, alone. The 36-year-old Trappe attached 54 balloons to a wicker chair and floated 22 miles over four hours from Kent to Dunkirk, France. Winds blew Trappe off course and he crash-landed in a cabbage patch, where authorities awaited him. Things looked bad for a moment until Trappe produced his passport and documentation proving he could land there; he had met with both British and French civil aviation authorities before launch. He was forced to cut some of the balloons to avoid floating into restricted airspace.

Last month, Trappe floated 109 miles in 14 hours across North Carolina, claiming the world's record for longest free-floating cluster balloon flight. A Roman Catholic priest attempted to grab that record in 2008, but received a Darwin Award instead. Trappe also claims to have reached 18,000' on another flight.

© C Harris Lynn, 2010

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