He set off from a field in Kent early this morning hoping to become the first cluster balloonist to cross the stretch of water. The US adventurer, 36, was held at the mercy of the prevailing winds beneath his colourful collection of gigantic inflatables. He set off from Kent Gliding Club in Challock, near Ashford, shortly after 5am, taking about an hour to travel the 10 miles to the coast. Mr Trappe spent about an hour and three quarters sailing silently over the Channel before reaching Dunkirk. As he soared high over the French countryside he continued heading towards the Belgium border. But after cutting away balloons to aid his descent, Mr Trappe made a textbook landing in a French cabbage field shortly after 9am. He avoided a power line and bounced a short distance before coming to a halt.
“It was just an exceptional, quiet, peaceful experience,” he told Sky News. Asked why he wanted to take on the challenge, he said: “Didn’t you have this dream – grabbing on to a bunch of toy balloons and floating off? I think it’s something that’s shared across cultures and across borders.
“Just this wonderful fantasy of grabbing on to toy balloons and floating into open space.”
He described sailing over the white cliffs of Dover in complete silence as “tremendously peaceful, tremendously beautiful”.
And there was even time for a “civil” chat with a man on the ground. The trained pilot added: “There are risks and we work to methodically reduce the risk so we can have a safe and fun flight.
“Because really it’s only about dreams and enjoying an adventure and that’s only enjoyable when it is safe.
“Mr Trappe has already made a number of trips using his balloon cluster. Last month he claimed a new world record for the longest free-floating balloon flight, flying 109 miles across North Carolina. ..