An adrenaline junkie soared through the air in a boat attached to hundreds of balloons today as part of a test flight for an ambitious attempt to cross the Atlantic.
Cramped in a seven foot boat the intrepid adventurer carried out the dry run as he prepares to fulfill his dream of crossing the Atlantic next year.
Accompanied by his co-pilot Nidia Ramirez, the adventurer will now fly across Mexico for 11 hours in the dry run.
A bystander said: ‘Everyone stood right next to it holding him down. Then they said launch and he let the ballast go and off he went – there was no stopping him. It went off like a rocket, it was amazing how quickly he lifted off.’
Trappe, who had worked through the night with 20 helpers filling the balloons with helium, soared above the crowd and drifted perfectly towards a nearby lake to test the emergency landing procedure.
The ‘shake-out’ test – which will give the team vital information about its capabilities – also included a landing and re-launch manoeuvre on a nearby lake, to see if it was able to land safely on water.
Just 90 seconds after take-off, Trappe cut away a several balloons and landed with a gentle splash on the water, skimming across for about four minutes. The 38-year-old then cut away a sand bag weighing the boat down.
Having checked the landings were in order he then ascended into the cloudless sky and tested the boat’s built-in satellite communication equipment.
It is not the first time Trappe has taken to the sky powered solely by balloons, as he first wowed the world in May 2010 when he flew from England to Belgium dangling from helium balloons – just like the Disney ‘Up’ character Carl Fredricksen.
Now the daredevil plans to take his ambition a little further with an incredible world-first attempt from Maine, USA, to Paris, France in the boat.
Trappe, backed by a team of four scientists, has been brainstorming potentially life-threatening scenarios he will encounter, and testing them.
‘I always joke and say we are doing this with wind, helium, hope – and testing,’ he said.
‘I don’t want to be a thousand miles off the coast and find a critical problem that I could have found had I tested better previously.’
He added: ‘What happens if there is unforecast weather or if I’m at high altitude and I become confused on the lines. Which lines do I cut?
‘So we have colour-coded them, we labelled them. That is a simple scenario of what things we are testing.’
Depending on funding, Trappe plans to cross the Atlantic next year where he is expected to travel between 2,500 to 3,500miles over three to six days.
He will float at between 18,000ft – 25,000ft and will net a world record for the highest cluster balloon flight when he climbs above a previous record of 21,600ft.
He’ll take oxygen through tubes feeding into his nose between 12,000 and 18,000ft and up to 25,000ft he’ll wear a full oxygen mask.
Trappe will control his altitude by popping individual balloons with a knife to lose height. An Arctic exposure suit will protect him from harsh elements like blistering UV rays from the sun and biting coldness.
‘I’ll be miles away from any form of rescue and will have to survive at sea.
‘The boat also gives me something sturdy and lightweight to ride while up in the air, so it’s the logical choice.’
In history there have been only 29 attempts at ballooning the Atlantic, with five deaths and only eight successful crossings.
Jonathan has harnessed the huge public interest in his previous adventures, to launch a $300,000 appeal to crowd-fund online the expensive helium and special UV resistant balloons he will need for his record-breaking flight.
Those interested in donating or sponsoring Trappe can do so at: http://www.indiegogo.com/upacrosstheatlantic
Culled from Dailymail.co.uk