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  • (upbeat music)

  • - Imagine as a child, you thought,

  • if you could just get enough helium balloons,

  • could you float away?

  • And we're normally told, no, that's not possible.

  • You're not going to be able to fly with the helium balloons.

  • But I revisited that idea as an adult.

  • And I argued if one balloon provides some unit of lift,

  • why wouldn't we be able to scale that?

  • And that's what we're doing.

  • I'm flying my chair.

  • My name is Trappe and I am a technical projects manager at a

  • large IT consulting firm as a day job.

  • But I have a unusual passion hobby,

  • which is to take helium balloons, toy, helium balloons,

  • and assemble them in massive clusters for manned flight.

  • These are loons that were never intended to support manned

  • flight, but that's what we've caused them to do.

  • - 17,100 still climbing.

  • - That passion has carried me aloft on

  • more than a dozen flights across as many years.

  • Sometimes it's just me,

  • just my body in a tiny little harness,

  • sometimes we're flying bigger things, I've flown houses.

  • What a thing to say,

  • I've flown houses, two of them.

  • We were flying these toy helium balloons

  • before the Disney Pixar film "Up."

  • But I will say this, that the film "Up" also inspired us.

  • Now, the idea of flying a house under toy helium balloons

  • absolutely came from the Disney Pixar film.

  • (upbeat music)

  • One of the things I love about flying these helium balloons

  • is they have the capability

  • for real expedition level flights.

  • What I'm talking about is flights of 23,000 feet in an open

  • gondola carried only by helium balloons.

  • 13,000 feet, as we cross the Alps.

  • It varies from a small cluster, to a dozen balloons

  • to extraordinarily large towering clusters,

  • 365 of these massive balloons.

  • We've flown clusters for 10 hours, 12 hours, 14 hours.

  • The longest we've ever flown in a single flight, 466 miles.

  • When I take off, I don't know where I'm going to put down.

  • I'll select a safe place to land in flight,

  • but I'm flying hundreds of miles without knowing exactly

  • where I'll land.

  • We're good, we're down.

  • So it's a mix of art and science.

  • The art is the colorful cluster appealing balloons,

  • but the science is,

  • it is quite serious and I treat it seriously.

  • There's human life at stake, my life and the lives of those

  • I share the sky with and the lives of those under me.

  • Hello, how are you?

  • We work with the Federal Aviation Administration in terms of

  • getting the aircraft certified.

  • London, this is Gas Balloon calling

  • to activate my flight plan,

  • took me about a year to go to flight school,

  • get a pilots license.

  • And after about a year of tests and training and

  • certifications, we made our first flight.

  • I'm using my standard office chair as my gondola

  • for that flight.

  • When you're up there, it's not just leisure and relaxation.

  • You're floating away.

  • You have moments of that, but there's a lot more time

  • spent thinking, okay, am I heading the right direction?

  • Do I have any airspace where obstacles in front of me.

  • Okay, we're climbing 120, right at 18,000 feet.

  • So just trying to get this guy to a zero pressure figure,

  • you have to fly the aircraft.

  • If I'm climbing and I need to initiate a descent,

  • I need to vent helium.

  • Balloons are bio degradable.

  • So we can also cut the balloons away,

  • cut away individual balloons.

  • So there's a whole calculation and it changes every flight,

  • depending on what I'm flying.

  • The feeling of launching is unparalleled,

  • it's not like anything else.

  • To fly an aircraft that's completely silent, makes no sound.

  • We're approaching sunset.

  • It's really beautiful out there.

  • There's no rotor, there's no prop, there's no jet.

  • There's no burner like a hot air balloon.

  • There's no roar of wind like you get in a glider.

  • It's completely silent.

  • Like, listen.

  • There's no sound.

  • So what's the whole point of this.

  • Why do it?

  • It's to lead an interesting life.

  • That is the most beautiful moonrise I've seen

  • in my entire life.

  • It enriches my life to look back and reflect

  • on what we've accomplished.

  • I have all of those moments as prized memories to keep me

  • warm in my old age.

(upbeat music)

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B1 US GreatBigStory helium flight flying flown balloon

How One Man Flies Hundreds of Miles Using Balloons

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    Seina posted on 2020/08/10
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