July 6, 2008

Lawn-Chair Balloonist Floats to Destination


By Jeff Barnard

The Associated Press

BEND, Ore.

Riding a green lawn chair supported by a rainbow array of more than 150 helium-filled party balloons, Kent Couch succeeded Saturday in his third bid to fly from central Oregon all the way to Idaho.

"If I had the time and money and people, I'd do this every weekend," Couch said before getting into the chair. "Things just look different from up there. You're moving so slowly. The best thing is the peace, the serenity."

Each balloon gives four pounds of lift. The chair weighs about 400 pounds, and Couch and his parachute add 200 more.

He carried a Red Ryder BB gun and a blow gun equipped with steel darts to shoot down balloons. He also had a pole with a hook for pulling in balloons, Global Positioning System tracking devices, an alti-meter and a satellite phone.

This was his third flight. In 2006, he had to parachute out after popping too many balloons. Last year, he flew 193 miles to northeastern Oregon, short of his goal.

Originally published by BY JEFF BARNARD.

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