July 7, 2008

Balloon Chair Flier Drops in to Visit Surprised Townsfolk

USING his trusty ball-bearing gun to help him return to Earth, a 48-year-old flew a lawn chair rigged with helium-filled balloons more than 200 miles across the Oregon desert, landing in a field in Idaho.

Kent Couch created a sensation in the tiny farming community of Cambridge, where he touched down safely in a pasture and was soon greeted by dozens of people, local plumber Mark Hetz said.

"My wife works at the City Market," Mr Hetz said. "She called and said, 'The balloon guy in the lawn chair just flew by the market'.

"We go outside to look, and there he is. He's flying by probably 100 to 200 feet (30 to 60 metres) off the ground.

"He takes his BB gun and shoots some balloons to lower himself to the ground."

Mr Couch covered about 235 miles in about nine hours after lifting off at dawn.

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