|North Carolina adrenaline junkie and IT specialist Jonathan Trappe is attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean using nothing but 370 helium party balloons, taking off Thursday morning. (Jonathan Trappe photography)
Jonathan Trappe is either on the world's best ever flight of fancy or he's reached the heights of lunacy.
The North Carolina IT manager reportedly lifted off from a field in Caribou, Maine, at 6 a.m. Thursday morning — held aloft by 370 party balloon filled with helium — hoping to become the first person to use such a contraption to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
But Trappe may not be as mad as he sounds.
His ground crew, as he tries to drift across 4,000 km, includes Col. Joe Kittinger, who in 1984 made a solo balloon flight across the Atlantic in a single balloon.
"Two years of work comes down to tonight, and then this flight," Trappe, 39, wrote on his website before he gently took off.
"Two years of work and years more of dreams."
The cluster balloonist figures it could take him as long as six days.
By late Thursday, his GPS system had mapped him out to sea, north of P.E.I.
When QMI Agency talked to him last year, Trappe said he'd never lost his childlike wonder.
"(Didn't) you wonder about it, as a kid?" he asked during that interview. "Didn't you wonder about just getting enough (helium balloons) ... that you could float away?"
He started with a short flight clinging to an office chair and a bunch of ordinary balloons. Though he did carry his passport, even then.
This time, he could end up anywhere between Norway and North Africa — or Paris, as he dreams big.