[aprssig] Fwd: [GPSL] Update on cluster balloon flight

Lynn W. Deffenbaugh (Mr) ldeffenb at homeside.to
Fri Sep 13 09:15:42 CDT 2013

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	[GPSL] Update on cluster balloon flight
Date: 	Fri, 13 Sep 2013 08:50:08 -0500
From: 	Mark Conner <mconner1 at gmail.com>
To: 	GPSL list <GPSL at yahoogroups.com>


Cluster Balloonist Abandons Attempt To Cross The Atlantic
Jonathan Trappe Was Unable To Control The Balloons' Altitude

Jonathan Trappe’s dream of floating across the Atlantic Ocean beneath of 
cluster of helium balloons has ended in a safe landing, but on the wrong 
side of the ocean. Trappe landed his cluster balloon in a remote area of 
Newfoundland at approximately 1830 EDT Thursday, September 12, 2013. 
Trappe had launched at about 0800 EDT from Caribou, Maine and had been 
airborne for only about 12 hours on a flight that was expected to take 
3-6 days.

ANN spoke to Kevin Knapp, a veteran gas pilot, who had the first duty 
shift in Trappe’s control center following the launch. According to 
Knapp, the cluster balloon was never able to achieve a stable float 
altitude and developed a severe yo-yo effect --- rapid descents with the 
aircraft hitting the surface of the water, followed by rapid ascents to 
altitudes as high as 21,000 feet or more. Trappe was unable to gain a 
steady hand on the errant balloon cluster, which at 3,000 cubic meters 
of volume, was the largest in the world.

Flight service expressed real concern over the inability to control the 
aircraft as they watched it repeatedly descend below their radar and 
then reappear climbing rapidly. Trappe and his team obviously had the 
same concern and with Newfoundland representing ‘land’s end’ before 
venturing out over the Atlantic, the decision was made to terminate the 

Knapp tells ANN that Trappe was able to execute a landing after darkness 
had fallen and in low visibility. In fact, he says Trappe is uncertain 
if he is on the ground or possibly in trees, but he is down and safe. 
Trappe noted on his own Facebook page that he planned to spend the night 
in his gondola/lifeboat and had lowered the exposure cover. Knapp said 
it was raining in the area and storms were expected overnight, however 
the weather trajectories for winds aloft showed that in a perfect world 
Trappe could have reached Ireland in 94 hours.

Trappe posted on his Facebook page about 2000 EDT "Landed safe, at an 
alternate location. Remote. I put the exposure canopy up on the boat. 
Will stay here for the night."

Trappe has already made history as a cluster balloon pilot having been 
the first to cross Lake Michigan, the English Channel and the Alps 
before making this attempt at the Atlantic.

The first crossing of the Atlantic by balloon was accomplished in 1976 
by the late Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman in their helium 
balloon Double Eagle II – so named because it was the second attempt by 
Anderson and Abruzzo. Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones required 3 
attempts to get the Breitling Orbiter balloon around the world for the 
first time, and the late Steve Fossett was not successful in his solo 
balloon circumnavigation until his 6th attempt in the Bud Light Spirit 
of Freedom.
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