Party is over for adventurer who tried trans-atlantic crossing with helium balloons

Balloon enthusiast Jonathan Trappe’s attempt had earned comparisons with the plot of Oscar-winning animated movie Up, about a pensioner who uses balloons to fly his home to South America.

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WASHINGTON // An American adventurer’s bid to float across the Atlantic to Europe in a rowboat suspended by 370 helium balloons failed when he was forced to land in the Canadian province of Newfoundland, he said yesterday.

The attempt by balloon enthusiast Jonathan Trappe had earned comparisons with the plot of Oscar-winning animated movie Up, about a pensioner who uses balloons to fly his home to South America.

However, Mr Trappe’s daring intercontinental flight ended late on Thursday before he attempted the difficult Atlantic crossing.

“Landed safe, at an alternate location. Remote. I put the exposure canopy up on the boat. Will stay here for the night,” Trappe, 39, wrote on his Facebook page, 13 hours after taking off.

Shortly before his post, he had commented: “Hmm, this doesn’t look like France.”

Global positioning websites had tracked his progress, and at one time showed him to be at an altitude of 6,400 metres and moving at a top speed of 109kph, according to the Bangor Daily News in Maine.

It said Mr Trappe landed about a mile from the coast and about five miles from the nearest road.

Authorities in Newfoundland could not immediately be reached.

Mr Trappe’s altitude and speed had dropped steadily as he neared the edge of Newfoundland, the newspaper said.

He had earlier posted after taking off from Caribou, Maine, to the strains of the United States national anthem and cheers from his ground crew.

“In the quiet sky, above the great Gulf of St Lawrence, travelling over 50mph in my little yellow rowboat at 18,000 feet,” he posted.

Mr Trappe has previously flown cluster balloons over the English Channel and the Alps, and had hoped to cross to Europe or North Africa in three to six days, depending on weather.

Agence France-Presse