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)

    This is now the best story EVER!

    May 28, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Diece

      "Trappe is FAA certified pilot with two dozen flights under his belt."
      What does that mean!?? He falls better than anybody else??

      May 28, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerome

      It means he can make better judgements based on experience regarding rate of decent. Why do people always have to argue everything.

      May 28, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • iblis

      This story is so cool, Just a peaceful bit of cool news in a world of hate and discontent, take me with you on your next flight,

      May 28, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Balloon Boy The Sequal

    I wonder if this guy will go the way of the Darwin Award winning priest from a few years ago.

    May 28, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Duffer

      Another 'Lawn Chair Larry' imitator.

      May 28, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Highly unlikely. His flights are planned months in advance and to the strictest of safety standards. Set up for these flights take hours alone.

      May 28, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. wye

    This Story Is Worthless Without Pictures

    May 28, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Terry

      I agree. I saw 'Up', great movie, but why do we need a pic from the movie? I want to see what was actually used to make the flight.

      May 28, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Bertina

      There is a link to a website that will show a video of the flight.

      May 28, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Craig Greenwood

    Not one picture. He brings a location device, communication equipment, but no camera.

    May 28, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Go to his website, pleanty of pics there! He always takes loads of pics!

      May 28, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. OKx3

    If you want to see a great film that no doubt influenced this story and Pixar's UP, check out Danny Deckchair.

    May 28, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mark in the Heartland

    Since this type of thing was first done in 1982, is it correct to say it is inspired by the movie Up?

    May 28, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dave

    Doesn't anyone fact check anymore. Lawn Chair Larry made his clustered balloon flight over Los Angeles. He launched in San Pedro and landed in Long Beach. Nothing to do with San Diego. And I agree, this is a story that needed a picture.

    May 28, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  8. Adam

    I wonder if he had to submit a flight plan or anything. I don't know much about air traffic around the English Channel, but it occurs to me that aircraft do have occasion to fly around there. That would suck, huh? Just sitting there, enjoying the breeze, the sunshine, and then hearing the buzz of an airplane engine...

    May 28, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • ken, the original

      nah, with the volcanic ash cloud this is how Brit Air will be doing all there flights to the continent.

      May 28, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • ken, the original

      btw there = their

      May 28, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      He does and is in constant contact with air traffic controllers via radio.

      May 28, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. DrewinPortland

    stupid with no pictures.. and it's on the front page? so much more we should be reading and SEEING...

    May 28, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • pete

      Yeah thats why I only read books with big colorfull pictures in them.... (use your imagination)

      May 28, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Andre

    here is a link to a pic of the guy doing the baloon thing. It might be from a previous excursion.

    May 28, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. tabrad

    Worthless story without pictures

    May 28, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. Marc

    Without pictures, it didn't happen.

    May 28, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kevin

    Did he have a passport?

    May 28, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. JKRC

    So this snipped how many balloons? Which then floated off, eventually descended, and probably choked a bird or animal?

    Stay classy, Great Britain.

    May 28, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • PETA - People Eating Tasty Animals

      JKRC – you are a tool.

      May 28, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • ken, the original

      Agreed. Tool you are. "What about the children!"

      May 28, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not worth it...

      Agreed. Cool story in theory, but 55 8-ft balloons would create a LOT of litter. Look up an image of these balloons – they are huge. He just sounds selfish to me.

      May 28, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Gail

    What a wonderful story- Up was a great movie-

    May 28, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
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