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Wed, Jun 02, 2010

American Crosses The English Channel Under Toy Helium Balloons

Not Quite The Lawn Chair Stunt ... But Darn Close

A 36-year-old North Carolina man has made an unusual crossing of the English Channel. He suspended himself in a specially-equipped chair under a massive and colorful cluster of helium balloons and drifted across the channel. When it came time to descend in France, he simply cut away a few balloons and came back to earth.

Jonathan Trappe's flight lasted about 5 hours. And while the crossing may have seemed idyllic, it was far from a lark. Trappe said on his website that he meticulously planned the event, gaining clearance from both British and French aviation authorities before attempting the crossing. On his chair, he carried a transponder, aircraft radios, an ELT, supplemental oxygen, and other safety gear.

The Associated Press reports that Trappe told Sky News, which covered the event, that it was a "quiet, peaceful experience."

The tracking map on the website shows that Trappe reached a maximum altitude of 7011 feet during his crossing, landing a few miles west of Dunkerque, France. Local police said he reportedly gave the landowner where he came down a little something for damages to his property.

Trappe claimed the record for the longest free-floating balloon flight last month according to AP. He drifted for some 14 hours over North Carolina, reaching an altitude of just under FL180. Trappe holds a balloon rating from the FAA.

FMI: www.clusterballoon.com

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