UPDATE 9.13.13: Jonathan Trappe reports that his bid to fly across the Atlantic has ended in Newfoundland. He landed and reported on his Facebook page: "Landed safe, at an alternate location. Remote. I put the exposure canopy up on the boat. Will stay here for the night."
If you've ever wondered if you could fly just by holding a bunch of helium balloons over your head, well then you might understand where Accenture IT Technical Projects Manager Jonathan Trappe is coming from.
Trappe today set out from Caribou, Maine to cross 2,500 miles of Atlantic Ocean using 370 helium balloons slung under a small gondola.
According to a DailyMail.com story, Trappe is relying on state-of-the-art weather data from the meteorologist who advised Felix Baumgartner on his record-breaking skydive from the stratosphere last year. The latest weather reports before the launch suggested winds would take Trappe to western Europe, though the exact destination would be hard to predict.
While the trip will no doubt be hazardous, Trappe is no stranger to using such balloons for madcap flights. He has flown his helium balloon aircraft across the Alps and the English Channel. He flew a house mimicking Disney's Up film across 50 miles of Mexico. And, on the Accenture website, Trappe details strapping into his office chair, tying up 55 helium balloons and fling over the North Carolina countryside - at about 15,000 feet.
On Trappe's ClusterBallon.com blog he wrote: "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.
It has been a generation since anyone has crossed the Atlantic Ocean from the United States using only helium. In fact, the last person to do it was the great balloonist Colonel Joe Kittinger, in 1984. Decades have passed, and no one has made the crossing from the USA using only helium since.
Nobody has ever made a flight like this, using only small helium balloons - in manned flight - across the ocean.
This is very serious; it is the great Atlantic Ocean. Five people have lost their lives attempting to cross these waters in a balloon, and two non-pilots were lost into the oceans flying cluster balloons. I know this, and I work to methodically reduce the risk, so we can have a successful flight for a new generation. I spent months searching for the ideal gondola that I could fly over that tremendous body of water. I needed something that would preserve human life at sea, should I need to ditch into the ocean. After months of searching, I found a perfect, sturdy, rigid, double-hulled proactive lifeboat. This is a serious piece of emergency gear that mariners rely upon to save their lives if their mother ship goes down."
You can follow Trappe's adventure here on FaceBook.
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