Balloonist's Atlantic bid ends in failure
(AFP) An American adventurer's bid to float across the Atlantic to Europe in a rowboat suspended by 370 helium balloons failed when he was forced to land in the Canadian province of Newfoundland, he said on Friday.
Balloon enthusiast Jonathan Trappe's attempt had earned comparisons with the plot of Oscar-winning animated movie "Up", about a pensioner who uses balloons to fly his home to South America.
However, Trappe's daring intercontinental flight ended late Thursday before he attempted the difficult Atlantic crossing.
"Landed safe, at an alternate location. Remote. I put the exposure canopy up on the boat. Will stay here for the night," Trappe, 39, wrote on his Facebook page, roughly 13 hours after taking off.
Shortly before his post, he had commented: "Hmm, this doesn't look like France."
Global positioning websites had tracked his progress, and at one time showed him to be at an altitude of 21,000 feet (6,400 meters) and moving at a top speed of 68 miles (109 kilometers) per hour, according to the Bangor Daily News in Maine.
It said Trappe landed about a mile from the coast and about five miles from the nearest road.
Authorities in Newfoundland could not immediately be reached.
Trappe's altitude and speed had dropped steadily as he neared the edge of Newfoundland, the paper said.
He had earlier posted after taking off from Caribou, Maine, to the strains of the US national anthem and cheers from his ground crew.
"In the quiet sky, above the great Gulf of St. Lawrence, traveling over 50 mph in my little yellow rowboat at 18,000 feet," he posted.
Trappe has previously flown cluster balloons over the English Channel and the Alps and had expected to cross to Europe or North Africa in three to six days, depending on weather.