An American aviator has begun the first attempt to cross the Atlantic suspended by hundreds of coloured balloons. Jonathan Trappe took off from Caribou, Maine, on Thursday morning as his capsule was lifted by 370 helium-filled balloons in heavy fog and he headed east from the US.
The concept may sound like the story from the Disney film Up but Trappe, 39, specialises in cluster ballooning and was the first person to cross the Channel and the Alps using the method.
The transatlantic trip could be as long as 2,500 miles (4,000km) and take between three and five days. Depending on the weather, he could land anywhere between Iceland and Morocco.
Trappe is relying on state of the art weather data from the meteorologist who advised Felix Baumgartner on his record-breaking skydive from the stratosphere last year. The latest weather reports suggested winds would take Trappe to western Europe.
“Weather is absolutely the most dangerous factor,” said Trappe, speaking immediately before launch. ” It’s the only thing that will carry me across, but bad conditions could also ruin the attempt or endanger my life.”