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Cluster Balloonist Plans Atlantic Ocean Crossing

Lifeboat Gondola Will Be Suspended By 365 Helium Balloons

The lawn-chair "Cluster Balloonist" who flew his unusual aircraft across the English Channel has his sights set on a more ambitious project ... a trip across the Atlantic Ocean.

The pilot is North Carolina resident Jonathan Trappe. According to a story appearing in the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph, the 38-year-old plans to lift a lifeboat-gondola under 365 helium-filled balloons and fly at an altitude of FL180 to FL250 some 2,500 miles across the pond. The existing world record, set by Trappe, is 230 miles.

Trappe plans to depart from Maine and hopes to arrive in Paris some days later. But being at the mercy of the wind, he could land anywhere from Norway to North Africa. The specially-built gondola will have an open roof for takeoff, but will be equipped with a UV and wind canopy to protect him from the elements at altitude. He will need to breathe supplemental oxygen during the flight.

In the event of an emergency, Trappe would change into a cold-water suit and pop enough of the balloons to lower him ... he hopes ... safely into the water. He is currently learning to sail the lifeboat should he be forced to ditch in the Atlantic.

The trip is admittedly dangerous. Five people have been fatally injured attempting the crossing, and none has done so using a cluster balloon arrangement. Trappe will be tracked continuously during his journey by a team of meteorologists at a command center in Wyoming.

(Image from Trappe YouTube Video)

FMI: www.indiegogo.com/upacrosstheatlantic

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