Wednesday, June 2, 2010 First person to cross the English Channel
using helium balloons -Jonathan Trappe
sets world record
DUNKIRK, France -- US daredevil Jonathan Trappe,
36, from Raleigh, NC, has soared across the English Channel
in a wicker basket borne aloft by a cloud of 55 balloons,
travelling 100 kilometres from Ashford in Kent, England, to
a field outside Dunkirk, in northern France , setting the world record for the First
person to cross the English Channel using helium balloons.
Once he was over land he cut some of the
balloons free and drifted to earth, confirming his status
as a pioneer of cluster ballooning.
''It was immensely beautiful, iconic. The
white cliffs of Dover, and then the coast of France. It was
such a quiet, peaceful experience,'' the pilot told Sky News
after landing in a cabbage field in northern France.
''This is the first successful crossing
of a substantial body of water,'' he said, describing how
he had dodged power lines during his descent. ''There is some
danger, but we did everything methodically to reduce the risk.''
Equipped with navigation and tracking
devices, Trappe reached a top altitude of 7,500 feet and speeds
of up to 25 mph before setting down in a lettuce patch 22
miles from where he started.
Jonathan Trappe set off from a field
near Ashford, Kent just after 0500 BST strapped to a chair
and suspended by clusters of giant inflatables.
When he reached the French countryside he
started cutting away the balloons to aid his descent. Just
after 0900 BST he avoided a power line and bounced to a halt
in a cabbage field.
The 36-year-old daredevil became the first
cluster-balloonist to cross the Channel when he landed in
a French cabbage field at about 0900 BST.
A French Police spokesmen said they
were surprised to see Mr Trappe but he had the correct documents
and was not arrested. The spokesman added: "He had all the
correct authorisation and I believe he even gave something
to the owner of the land where he came down by way of damages."
Trappe is a registered pilot and his four-hour
flight was cleared by British aviation authorities.
Asked why he took on the challenge,
he said: “Didn’t you have this dream, grabbing on to a bunch
of toy balloons and floating off?”
Trappe added that he had "a great
time. And it's not just about the balloons. It's about dreams.
And inspiration. And accomplishing what you set out to do."