Approaching Newfoundland

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Quite the journey -- Jonathan Trappe lifted off early this morning from northern Maine. He is approaching Newfoundland on his journey across the Atlantic Ocean. His vehicle? A large cluster of party balloons. Website: Cluster Map showing position from his transponders From his website (no ability to link):
The Atlantic Ocean. The Big Blue Deep.
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.

We built a flight harness for this boat, built a load ring -- an epiphany in stainless steel coming from Augsburg Germany. We have completed the test flight of our system: the shakeout flight launched in Leon, Mexico on November 16, 2012. This video shows the first flight and splashdown landing.

Now, in the summer of 2013, I have come to Caribou, Maine. This community has a great tradition of manned trans-continental balloon flight. The last straight-gas flight-- Colonel Kittinger's 1984 flight-- launched from this community.

I hope to have the opportunity to float in the footsteps of the great pilots that have gone before.

While we complete final preparations on-site, we wait for the weather system that will allow us to enter manned flight and embark on an expedition unlike anything that has gone before. I am here, in Maine, with the balloon system-- waiting for the weather to come that will allow me to cross the big blue deep.
Wow! Here is the video of the test flight and splashdown:

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on September 12, 2013 2:26 PM.

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