Lawn-chair balloonist flies from Oregon to Idaho

By | July 9, 2008

Using his trusty BB gun to help him return to Earth, a 48-year-old gas station owner flew a lawn chair rigged with helium-filled balloons more than 200 miles across the Oregon desert Saturday, landing in a field in Idaho.

Kent Couch created a sensation in this tiny farming community, where he touched down safely in a pasture after lifting off from Bend, Ore., and was soon greeted by dozens of people who gave him drinks of water, local plumber Mark Hetz said.  …

“He takes his BB gun and shoots some balloons to lower himself to the ground. When he hit the ground he released all the little tiny balloons. People were racing down the road with cameras. They were all talking and laughing.”

Couch covered about 235 miles (about 370 kilometers) in about nine hours after lifting off at dawn from his gas station riding in a green lawn chair rigged with an array of more than 150 giant party balloons. … This was Couch’s third balloon flight. He realized it would be possible after watching a TV show about the 1982 lawn chair flight over Los Angeles of truck driver Larry Walters, who gained folk hero fame but was fined $1,500 for violating air traffic rules.

In 2006, Couch had to parachute out after popping too many balloons. … Each balloon gives four pounds of lift. The chair was about 400 pounds, and Couch and his parachute 200 more. “I’d go to 30,000 feet if I didn’t shoot a balloon down periodically,” Couch said.  … Couch flew hang gliders and skydived before taking up lawn-chair flights. He estimated the rig cost about $6,000, mostly for helium. Costs were defrayed by corporate sponsors.- cnn

Would you do it?

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