Balloonist crosses English Channel
He made it. Jonathan Trappe crossed the English Channel on a carefully planned trip riding the wind beneath a cluster of advertising balloons. He had practiced for the flight in the United States in his FAA-approved balloon contraption.
The Associated Press reported Trappe took off from Kent in Southeast England, and landed five hours later in a French cabbage patch. By special arrangement, he then was driven to the nearest airport to pass Customs.
He controls his altitude by releasing water ballast to rise, and releasing or knifing balloons to descend. Water is released at the last moment to soften the landing. Although he first tried an office chair for the flights, he now uses a carbon-fiber cradle. Both he and the balloon cluster are certificated by the FAA for the flights.
Cluster ballooning is not new. Jean Piccard made research flights beneath clusters of balloons in the United States in 1937.
May 28, 2010