Photo: Jonathan Trappe
Well, Jonathan Trappe — the 38-year-old North Carolinian adventurer who floats through the sky using of a cluster of balloons — is at it again; this time flying over the Alps in his lawn chair tied to dozens of helium-filled balloons. Starting in the French mountain town of Châteauvieux, Trappe took flight for 12 hours, soaring above the French and Italian Alps using 54 balloons filled with helium. He landed near the Italian town of Andezeno, where he was bestowed with the claim to fame of being the first person to cross the Alps via cluster ballooning.
The cluster balloon flight was not without its issues and concerns. “It was seriously cold, up above the highest mountain peaks, and above the cloud layer,” Trappe told Discovery. “At 3:00 or 4:00am I was wondering to myself if it was worth it. There is so much effort required to go aloft under these toy balloons — it is a completely unreasonable way to fly,” he admitted.
Ultimately it was worth it. “Then, the dawn came,” Trappe continued. “Rumors of light to start with. But the rumors turned to promises, and promises delivered the sun to the sky. Watching the sun rise from the heavens, while I was well above the cloud layer with nothing underneath me, and nothing surrounding me but sky, was unlike anything else. Those thoughts from 3:00 or 4:00am were gone, and it was beautiful and glorious.”
Sound like he’s maybe seen the Disney/Pixar movie Up too many times? Think again; Trappe, who’s an FAA certified pilot, has been ballooning since before that animated film for years — even before his cluster balloon flights. His Alps crossing is just one of other historic flights; Trappe entered the Guinness Book of World Records for Longest Cluster Balloon Flight, when he flew for 14 hours, across 109 miles in his home state of North Carolina in April of 2010.
Want to learn more? Check out Jonathan Trappe’s Cluster Balloon website.