Cluster Balloonist Crosses English Channel
Jonathan Trappe, of Raleigh, N.C., last Friday successfully completed the first crossing of the English Channel flying a cluster balloon system. Trappe flew in a chair suspended from 54 small helium balloons, crossing 22 miles from England to France in about two hours, at altitudes up to 7,500 feet and speeds up to 25 mph. To control his descent, he popped or released the balloons one by one. He also carried some water to use as ballast. After landing, Trappe said it had been a "tremendously beautiful experience" to float in silence with the winds. "It's not just about the balloons," he said. "It's about dreams. And inspiration. And accomplishing what you set out to do." Trappe, who holds an FAA balloon pilot certificate, plans to visit AirVenture 2010 later this summer and hopes to fly his system over Oshkosh at least once.
The Pixar movie UP, which features a house floating under a cluster of balloons, will be shown at AirVenture's Fly-In Theater on Saturday night, July 31. Trappe set a time-aloft record for cluster-ballooning last month, with a 14-hour flight over North Carolina. His cross-channel flight was tracked live online, and his route is posted with details of his speed and altitude at each point.