'Up' balloonist comes back down: Jonathon Trappe forced to abandon helium-filled flight across the Atlantic


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The Independent US

Video: Jonathan Trappe before he set off on his expedition

A balloonist has been forced to drop his mission to cross the Atlantic using helium-filled balloons.

In scenes reminiscent of Disney film Up, Jonathon Trappe took off in Caribou, Maine on Thursday amid heavy fog whilst in a lifeboat attached to 370 helium filled balloons.

A team of 150 volunteers had gathered to help Mr Trappe fill the balloons with helium. He has already carried out successful cluster balloon voyages across the Alps and the English Channel.

However, he was forced to quit his attempt because of technical problems over Newfoundland.

Mr Trappe, who works as an IT manager in North Carolina, had hoped to complete his 2,500-mile trip across Europe within six days.

On his website, he said he had spent months "searching for the ideal gondola that I could fly over that tremendous body of water" and he had chosen Maine to begin his journey because the "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", he added.

A statement released by his team confirmed he had been forced to abandon his mission, despite waiting months for the perfect weather conditions.

“Sadly Jonathan has been forced to abandon his quest early after experiencing technical difficulties over Newfoundland,” the statement said.

“However, we are happy to report he is safe and well.”

He took to Facebook to confirm that he had landed safely in an alternative location and had "put the exposure canopy up on the boat".

On his website, Mr Trappe said he had been working to reduce the risk involved in the journey."The Atlantic Ocean has been crossed many times, and in may ways, but never quite like this," he wrote.

"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.

Mr Trappe currently holds the world record for the longest cluster balloon flight, which currently stands at 14 hours in the air.