Bid to cross Atlantic in flying rowboat fizzles, balloonist rescued

Jonathan Trappe lifted off from Maine under 370 balloons.

(Credit: YouTube screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET)

“Hmm, this doesn’t look like France.”

That was the rather uninspiring final shipboard message from Jonathan Trappe, a true romantic possessed of bravery, ingenuity, and a desire to fly across the Atlantic under a bunch of balloons.

In a real-life echo of the Pixar film “Up,” Trappe set off from Caribou, Maine, on Thursday in a rowboat that was carried into the sky by 370 helium-filled balloons.

His goal: to float to Europe. Unfortunately, the odyssey failed after only 12 hours, with Trappe getting no farther than Newfoundland.

It’s unclear what forced the balloon-boat down. Floating eastward, he posted on Facebook: “In the quiet sky, above the great Gulf of St. Lawrence, traveling over 50 mph — in my little yellow rowboat, at 18,000 feet.”

It must have been beautiful and terrifying. A few hours later, however, Trappe posted that he landed safely at an “alternate location” and then bedded down for the night in his specially constructed boat, which could be used to ditch in the ocean. He included his coordinates on a satellite map.

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