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Man crosses the English Channel using balloons

LONDON — In a goofy yet mesmerizing stunt, an American adventurer crossed the English Channel on Friday carried by a bundle of helium balloons, ending a quiet and serene flight by touching down in a French cabbage patch.

Jonathan Trappe, 36, of Raleigh, N.C., was strapped in a specially equipped chair below a bright cluster of balloons when he lifted off early Friday from Kent, in southeast England.

About five hours later, he lowered himself into a French field by cutting some of the balloons away.

"It was just an exceptional, quiet, peaceful experience," Trappe told Sky News television, which covered the adventure.

Whenasked why he went, Trappe replied: "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."

However, the channel crossing wasn't a matter of just grabbing a few balloons. Trappe says on his Web site that he made a scouting trip in March and gained clearance from French and British aviation authorities and from customs and immigration offices on both sides.

His equipment list didn't stop at balloons and a chair, but included an aircraft transponder, oxygen system, aircraft radios, emergency locator beacon, in-flight satellite tracking and a radio tracker.

"He had all the correct authorization and I believe he even gave something to the owner of the land where he came down by way of damages," said a spokesman for French police.

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