Man crosses Alps using helium balloons tied to a chair

Clearly taking his cues from Pixar’s Up or the lesser known Danny Deckchair, American adventurer Jonathan Trappe found a unique way to cross the Alps. Last week, the 38-year old from North Carolina, strapped 54 helium balloons to a chair, took flight, and soared high above the iconic European mountain range.

Trappe began his journey in the town of Gap, located in southern France. Setting out before dawn, he quickly gained altitude, climbing as high as 15,000 feet, and drifted over the snow capped peaks, while the sun rose in the east. He continued on for 12 hours, before slowly descending into the village of Andezeno, on the Italian side of the Alps.

Floating above the remote mountain tops in the dark was probably unnerving enough, but the scariest moment of the flight came when Trappe narrowly avoided hitting a mountain. While drifting towards the border between Italy and France, he nearly collided with Monte Viso, a 12,602 foot high, pyramid shaped peak that towers above the surrounding summits. Fortunately, he sailed safely past, even if it was a little too close for comfort.

The successful crossing of the Alps is another first for Trappe, who last year became the first person to cross the English Channel by helium balloon as well. No word on what he’ll try next, but something tells me he hasn’t finished seeing how far his balloons will carry him.

So what’s it like to float above the Alps in a chair suspended by helium balloons? Check out the video below to find out.

[Photo courtesy of Barcroft]

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade balloons: Where to see them inflate and balloon history facts

Starting this afternoon and on into tonight the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade character balloons will be inflated at Central Park West and Columbus Avenue on 77th and 81st Streets. The public is able to watch the process between 3:00 and 10:00 p.m. From what I’ve read, arrive closer to the end to get the balloons’ full effects.

The balloons, that take trained volunteers to safely maneuver them along the parade route without injuring parade goers or damaging buildings, have been a Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition since 1927. Here are 10 balloon history facts from the parade history page of the Macy’s website and at the website of The Band of Blue.

Also, I found a detailed video of the balloons being inflated. The video gives a clear idea about just how big these balloons are and the hubbub that is involved in the process of making them parade worthy. My favorite spot is of the police officer getting another officer to take her picture in front of one of them.

  1. After the first parade in 1927, the balloons were released.
  2. When the balloons reached the skyline they burst with a bang.
  3. In 1928, the balloons were redesigned to last for several days. They also had labels on them so people who found them could return them for a reward.
  4. Mickey Mouse first appeared in the parade in 1934 and was the parade’s first joint effort with Walt Disney Productions.
  5. Between 1942 and 1944, balloons were deflated and given to the war effort. Their rubber was needed.
  6. In 1957, it rained so much that Popeye’s hat filled with water and kept dumping water on parade-goers.
  7. In 1958, due to a helium shortage, balloons were inflated with air and hung from cranes and pulled.
  8. In 2005, the M &Ms balloon crashed into a light post during the parade. The falling debris injured two sisters.
  9. Spider man is 78 feet long making this balloon the longest of them.
  10. Snoopy is the character who has appeared in various forms the most–six in all.