Man Fails In His Attempt To Float Across The Atlantic With Balloons

Jonathan Trappe’s 2,500-mile journey was cut short when he was forced to land in Canada 12 hours into his expedition.

Jonathan Trappe had hoped to float across the Atlantic Ocean using balloons in a real-life version of Up (or Danny Deckchair), but his hopes were dashed 12 hours into the journey when he was forced to land in Canada.

The 39-year-old IT manager took off Thursday from Caribou, Maine in a craft lifted by 370 giant balloons filled with helium, but technical issues grounded the aviation enthusiast on the west coast of Newfoundland. Trappe, a licensed pilot, had successfully flown over the English Channel in 2010 using a cluster of large balloons.

Guided by meteorologists throughout the short-lived trip, Trappe updated fans on his Facebook page Thursday evening: “hmm, this doesn’t look like France,” adding that he landed safely in a remote location. The GPS on the craft shows Trappe had reached more than 20,000 feet in altitude. Before taking off, he had told the U.K.’s Barcroft TV that “there’s certainly the possibility of several catastrophic failures.”

“I’m afraid of dying, but we still go forward with the expedition to satisfy ourselves, to satisfy myself,” he said. Trappe spent two years preparing for this journey. It’s unknown if he’ll make another attempt.

About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.