Meet Jonathan Trappe. Trappe is an IT manager by career; by calling, however, he is an adventurer. And a flight enthusiast. And one of the few people in the world who can fairly be called a "cluster balloon specialist."
Trappe, you see, is an expert in that particular, poetic art that involves connecting a capsule or a chair (or a house, or what have you) to a collection of enormous helium balloons ... and then launching those balloons into the air. In that capacity, Trappe has completed a series of Up-worthy adventures: He is the first person to have crossed the English Channel hoisted only by helium. He is the first person, as of 2010, to have made a similar passage over the Alps.
This week, however, Trappe took on an even bigger challenge: crossing the Atlantic. In, yep, in a basket buoyed by helium balloons -- by 370 helium balloons, to be precise. Balloons of red and blue and orange and white -- balloons that looked like something out of a carnival, save for the fact that they were carrying a guy over an enormous ocean. (The basket in this case was actually more like a lifeboat -- a precaution taken in the event Trappe would need to ditch in the ocean.)
Trappe's trip started yesterday morning, when he and his balloon-buoyed, er, conTrappetion took off from Caribou, Maine. From there, Trappe headed East, away from the U.S. coast. His route, as you might imagine, was heavily reliant on wind patterns. On the plus side, this meant that Trappe might be able, as he put it, to "catch those transatlantic winds and ride them across like a conveyor belt." On the minus side, it meant that he had no real idea where he'd end up. (In a news conference before his takeoff, Trappe noted that he could land anywhere from Iceland to Morocco, depending on the weather.)