Jonathan Trappe, 39, lifted off at 6.20am EDT in heavy fog from Caribou, Maine, with the intention of making the 2,500 mile trip across the Atlantic to Europe.
The concept may sound like the story from the Disney film Up but Trappe specialises in cluster ballooning and was the first person to cross the Channel and the Alps using the method.
“I’m just as afraid of dying as anyone,” he said. “But I go forward in the spirit of adventure, doing something nobody has achieved before, and to live an interesting life.”
Should he succeed, he would be the first ever person to cross the ocean by cluster ballooning. The journey is expected to take between three to five days, although the final destination could be anywhere, reports the Telegraph.
“The Atlantic Ocean has been crossed many times, and in many ways, but never quite like this,” he said on his website.
The last man to successfully cross the Atlantic in a Helium balloon was Colonel Joe Kittinger in 1984, though he completed the journey with a conventional single hot-air balloon, not hundreds of smaller ones. Kittinger himself will be providing Trappe with weather updates as he attempts the Atlantic crossing, says ABC News.
Trappe is also 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.”
Caribou City Manager Austin Bleess said about 150 volunteers helped in filling the helium balloons starting Wednesday night. Trappe and his balloons lifted off from a foggy softball field near the Canadian border at sunrise Thursday. “Man, it was awesome,” Bleess said.
Trappe, 39, who works as an IT manager in North Carolina, has previously completed successful cluster balloon voyages across the Alps and the English Channel. He and his team waited for over 100 days for just the right weather conditions capable of carrying him across the ocean.
Unfortunately, Jonathan Trappe’s representatives say a technical glitch just 12 hours into his journey forced him to land on a remote part of the Canadian coast, in Newfoundland.
His team says he hunkered down for the night, and they’re now making plans to get him home.
His latest trip, which he began in a small yellow lifeboat, was going to take anywhere from three to five days over 2,500 miles. He was planning to land somewhere between Iceland and Morocco. His balloons would allow him to climb as high as 25,000 feet into the air, and he planned to pop or release them to descend.
“Two years of work comes down to tonight, and then this flight,” Trappe, whose flight is reminiscent of the Disney film “Up,” wrote on his website before lifting off. “Two years of work, and years more of dreams. My heart could never live a long life the way it is beating now.”