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article imageCluster Balloonist Sets World Record - Audio/Video added Special

By Kim I. Hartman     Apr 15, 2010 in World
Raleigh - Cluster balloon enthusiast and licensed pilot Jonathan Trappe has set a new world record for longest free floating balloon flight.
Next time you complain about your seating assignment, delays in flights, lost baggage and those bothersome FAA regulations banning everything from bottled water to fingernail clippers consider booking a seat in the gondola of one of these high flying cluster balloon flights that have made Jonathan Trappe famous among his peers and a hero to every man in the country with a keg of beer, a lawn chair, a couple bags of balloons and plenty spare time on his hands to blow them all up.
Over the weekend in Raleigh, Trappe strapped himself into his special made gondola- like chair and after inflating 57 helium balloons he launched his craft and floated into the skies above North Carolina for the next 14 hours to set the record for world's longest balloon flight.
Trappe is an FAA certified pilot, rated for Lighter-Than-Air: Free Balloons. He has completed specific gas balloon training and has flown under multiple lighter-than-air gasses. On this one flight, Trappe traversed six states and traveled over 1,214 miles. He deployed his night aviation lights, and floated into the quiet skies. "The sun set, and I wouldn't see the earth for another dozen hours,: said Trappe.
All flights are conducted in strict compliance with all Federal Aviation Regulations, and the FAA is always contacted before a cluster balloon launch. Working extensively with the FAA, Trappe has been issued an airworthiness certificate for one of his cluster systems, N878UP. Trappeā€™s flights are always run with a primary focus on safety according to his web site , Jonathan Trappe's
A view from the special made Gondola used in piloting the Cluster Balloon Flights.
A view from the special made Gondola used in piloting the Cluster Balloon Flights.
Jonathan Trappe
Trappe said that "Flying a gas balloon is unlike any other experience. There is no sound. No propellers, no jet engines. No burner, no heart-thumping rotors of a helicopter. Not even the wind that gliders experience. This is true, silent flight and part of the wonder is that you do not know where you will land. You are carried with the wind, towards destinations unknown. It is a wonderful adventure, and it is the most pure form of flight."
High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, Jr
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.
And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space...
...put out my hand, and touched the face of God
Although Trappe has not yet touched the face of God he is getting closer with each launch. "Sir Isaac Newton said "what goes up must come down" and when he is ready to descend from these daring flight he begins popping balloons till he can safely land the craft" says Trappe.
Jonathan Trappe sets World Record for longest flight in his special made flying machine.
Jonathan Trappe sets World Record for longest flight in his special made flying machine.
Jonathan Trapp
To meet the safety requirements of the FAA , Trappe must carry two-way aircraft radios, a parachute, a GPS device, an emergency locater beacon, oxygen tanks and an altitude encoding transponder, which ensures that his balloons appear on radar.
Some of Jonathan Trappe's famous flights and training include "The Cloud Hopper" and both the Bradley and Worner gas balloons as well as "Chairway to Heaven" , "The Blueberry Cluster", "Carl Fredricksen's Flying Armchair", "America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race",
The special made Gondola used by Jonathan Trapp in his flights of fancy across the skies of the Amer...
The special made Gondola used by Jonathan Trapp in his flights of fancy across the skies of the America
Jonathan Trappe
The cluster balloon system is a federally registered U.S. aircraft. While resembling a comfortable old armchair, the 'gondola' is actually made of carbon fiber, and is equipped with a 5-point aeronautic safety harness for the pilot. After months of work and coordination with the FAA, this aircraft became the only cluster balloon system to ever receive an airworthiness nod from the United States Federal Aviation Administration. In honor of the film, it bears the U.S. aircraft identifier N878UP, and has been issued registration and airworthiness certificates by the FAA.
Trappe is a highly, trained professional and says "this feat should not be attempted by anyone who is not trained, experienced and certified to pilot these free floating crafts". If you run a hot-air festival and would like to host a Cluster Balloon launch you may contact Jonathan Trappe for more information.
Another successful flight and landing by Jonathan Trappe  balloon enthusiast extraordinare/
Another successful flight and landing by Jonathan Trappe, balloon enthusiast extraordinare/
Jonathan Trappe
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