THE UP COMPARISONS are obvious, but Trappe has been at this since way before the movie came out. He’s an FAA-certified pilot and designer of the “cluster balloon” system, N878UP, that he flies.
In May of 2010, he floated across the English Channel. He’s made it to as high as 17,390 feet, and flies regularly around the US.
From what I’ve read, though, the Alps crossing was his most intense voyage yet. He set off well before dawn, and hanging at altitude in the dark exposed him to bitter cold. He later told Discovery:
At 3:00 or 4:00am I was wondering to myself if it was worth it. There is so much effort required to go aloft under these toy balloons — it is a completely unreasonable way to fly.
Then, after a close call topping the French peak of Monte Viso, the sun rose and it was all good. Twelve hours after takeoff, he landed in Andezeno, Italy, the first person in history to complete such a journey.