Balloonist in chair goes with the wind

April 11, 2010 

— As in a scene out of a movie, local balloon pilot Jonathan Trappe took to the North Carolina skies again Saturday afternoon.

Departing from the Sanford-Lee County airport, Trappe took flight sitting in a chair attached to about 40 big, brightly colored helium balloons.

The flight was part of an event for the airport's Wings of Carolina Flying Club, of which Trappe is a member.

In 2008, Trappe made one balloon trip that took him almost 50 miles, from Franklin County to an area near Rocky Mount.

Most recently, Trappe spent a few months touring the nation promoting the Pixar movie 'Up,' in which a 78-year-old man sets his house afloat by attaching it to thousands of balloons.

When Trappe is in the air, he takes a radio, along with a transponder so that he shows up on radar, said Wings of Carolina spokesman Paul Wilder. But other than adjusting his altitude to catch wind currents, Trappe has no way to steer.

"He really just goes with the wind," Wilder said.

Roughly 50 people were at the airport to see Trappe off Saturday.

"We typically fly airplanes, but we have members who do other things," Wilder said. "He attracts a little more attention than I do."

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