May 28th, 2010
10:58 AM ET

Man takes cue from 'UP,' floats across English Channel

The movie "UP" has sparked a renewed interest in the sport of cluster ballooning.

Remember "UP," the Pixar movie in which good ol’ cranky Carl hooks 20,000 helium-filled balloons to his house and floats away to South America?

It’s not as impossible as it looks.

American adventurer Jonathan R. Trappe strapped himself to a wicker chair – sans house – that was strung with 55 multicolored “chloroprene cloudbuster” balloons and successfully floated himself across the English Channel Friday morning.

Snipping off one eight-foot helium filled balloon at a time, Trappe, descended into a field in Dunkirk, northern France, after more than three hours in the air, according the UK’s Times newspaper.

Sure, he might not have flown as far – and possibly as high – as Carl, but Trappe’s latest trip is said to have made history: It’s the first successful cluster balloon flight over the 22-mile ribbon of water between U.K. and France.

Describing the trip the 36-year-old told SkyNews: “It was tremendously peaceful, tremendously beautiful… it was just an exceptionally quiet, peaceful experience.”

“Isn’t it everyone’s dream?” he said. “Grabbing on to toy balloons and flying off into open space?”

But not everyone can attempt such a feat. Trappe is FAA certified pilot with two dozen flights under his belt.

The only way to land in a cluster balloon flight is to cut off one balloon at a time and fine tune the descent by jettisoning water ballast. Trappe’s seat pod was packed with a location device and communication equipment.

Last month he claimed new world record for the longest free-floating balloon flight, flying 109 miles across North Carolina. He has also made flights using an office chair.

The balloons he adds “represent dreams... the uncommon, the unusual, the unlikely the impossible but true.”

The sport of cluster ballooning began in 1982 when Larry Walters flew across San Diego in a homemade craft reaching heights of 15,000 feet.

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Filed under: Air travel • United Kingdom
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Chris

    Question: Does he wear a parachute, you know, just in case?

    May 28, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jess

    Sounds really nice and beautiful.. peaceful and serene.. my kinda place right now! Stop criticizing please.. deep inside I know a lot of you WISH you could do that just to get away and be alone.

    May 28, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      Maybe be far from comments like this.

      May 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mtd

    Another wanna-be famous persons out there. He could use his time on better things, like helping people. In the end, he is actually poluting the planet with the balloons he cuts off. He should be made to pick them up and dispose of them properly. The movie "UP" does have an adult theme, but my children love it.

    May 28, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ron

    A priest (crazy, of course) tried to do this in Brazil a few years ago (I believe that's the story that inspired the writers of "Up"). After one succesful flight, he tried it once again to fly all the way to Argentina.
    He ended up being taken to the middle of the ocean. They found his body 500 or 600 miles from where he departed.
    Stupid way to die.

    May 28, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kyle


    May 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dano Boone

    "American adventurer Jonathan R. Trappe strapped himself to a wicker chair.." should actually have read:

    American idiot.

    May 28, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Meena is his website, yet it looks down due to increased traffic.

    May 28, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. KIA

    Danny Deckchair all the way. That was such a good movie.

    May 28, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mymiracles

    Next we will have some idiot trying to make it with balloons tied to a house...................people this was a movie!!!

    May 28, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mymiracles

    Danni, You got the hot air right!!
    He sure is full of something.

    May 28, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. NC Fan of Jonathan's flights

    If you ask Jonathan, he will tell you the first time this was done was in 1937 by Jean Piccard and yes StarTrek's Next Generation captain character was said to be loosely tied to the same. If you participate in one of Jonathan's launches, he does an extrodinary job preparing for and ensuring safety for those around him as well as himself.

    May 28, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jacob one took pictures

    June 6, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
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