VIDEO

American sets off for Europe in rainbow balloon

A balloon cluster carrying Mr Jonathan Trappe lifts off from Caribou, Maine, on Sept 12, 2013, in this photo provided by Mr Mark McBreairty. In a scene reminiscent of the Pixar movie Up, Mr Trappe set off on Thursday in a daring bid to drift across t
A balloon cluster carrying Mr Jonathan Trappe lifts off from Caribou, Maine, on Sept 12, 2013, in this photo provided by Mr Mark McBreairty. In a scene reminiscent of the Pixar movie Up, Mr Trappe set off on Thursday in a daring bid to drift across the Atlantic in a wildly colourful cluster balloon. -- PHOTO: AP  

WASHINGTON (AFP) - In a scene reminiscent of the Pixar movie Up, an American adventurer set off on Thursday in a daring bid to drift across the Atlantic in a wildly colourful cluster balloon.

By sunset, Mr Jonathan Trappe was approaching Corner Brook, on the west coast of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, satellite tracking websites indicated.

"In the quiet sky, above the great Gulf of St Lawrence, traveling over 35 mph in my little yellow rowboat at 18,000 feet," or 80khm and 5,500m, wrote Mr Trappe earlier on Facebook.

Mr Trappe, a technical projects manager and ballooon enthusiast from North Carolina, departed at dawn from Caribou, Maine, to the strains of The Star-Spangled Banner and cheers from his ground crew who had spent the night inflating his craft's 370 balloons with helium.

The scene drew inevitable comparisons to Up, although for a gondola, Mr Trappe opted for an orange survival dinghy instead of the Victorian house that appears in the cartoon.

Mr Trappe, who has previously flown cluster balloons over the English Channel and the Alps, has said he expects his journey to take three to six days, depending on weather.

"I could literally land in North Africa, Portugal, Spain, France, the United Kingdom (or) all the way up to Norway," he told the Bangor Daily News in Maine back in February when he was finalising his plans.

His craft, with the United States registration number N878UP, has been certified as airworthy by the Federal Aviation Administration.