Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Oregon man takes lawn chair up to 13000 feet, travels 193 miles

Kentcouch1qq0Gas station owner Kent Couch settled down in his lawn chair this weekend with some drinks and snacks - and a parachute.

Attached to the lawn chair were 105 balloons of various colors, each 4 feet around. Bundled together, the balloons reached three stories high.

Destination: Idaho.

Couch carried a Global Positioning System device, a two-way radio, a digital camcorder and a cell phone. He also had instruments to measure his altitude and speed, and about four plastic bags holding five gallons of water each to act as a ballast - he could turn a spigot, release water and rise.

Nearly nine hours later, Couch was short of Idaho. But he was 193 miles from home, in a farmer's field near Union, having crossed much of Oregon at 11,000 feet.

Couch, 47, is the latest American to emulate Larry Walters, who in 1982 rose three miles above Los Angeles in a lawn chair lifted by balloons.

Kentcouchja1"When you're a little kid and you're holding a helium balloon, it has to cross your mind," he said. "When you're laying in the grass on a summer day, and you see the clouds, you wish you could jump on them. This is as close as you can come to jumping on them. It's just like that."


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