When fireworks, barbecue and watermelon just aren’t enough to give you a Fourth of July fix, you can always tie balloons to your lawn chair and take flight. That’s what Kent Couch plans to do this 4th of July weekend. The story and video are here.
Couch is set to launch himself skyward on Saturday aboard his lawn chair, which will be attached to 150 giant latex party balloons filled with helium. His goal: to fly more than 300 miles from his gas station in central Oregon to somewhere in Idaho, preferably Boise.
It will be his third attempt to fly by the seat of his pants to Idaho – he doesn’t wear a seat belt.
Couch, 48, was inspired to go up, up and away by the 1982 lawn-chair flight over Los Angeles by truck driver Larry Walters, whose adventure brought him a measure of fame, but also a $1,500 fine for violating air traffic rules.
Couch made his first ascent in 2006, floating for six hours before shooting out a few balloons with his pellet gun to descend. He apparently shot out too many balloons because he had to use his parachute to land. He never found the lawn chair.
Last year, he flew 193 miles before running low on helium and landing in a patch of sagebrush. A gust of wind blew away that chair. It was found in May by a ranchers checking the fence line on their eastern Oregon property.
“When you’re up there, there’s not much stress,” he said. “There’s a little stress on the way down. A few navigational issues you’ve got to deal with. But there’s nothing, really, I can do but enjoy it.”
With corporate sponsorship this year, he says he’s much better equipped and hopes to cross the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon and make it to Idaho and beyond. He figures the rig costs about $6,000, mostly for helium.
“You don’t want to eat much,” he said. “There’s no bathrooms up there on that chair.”
If all goes well this year, the lawn-chair pilot says he’d like to fly across the English Channel and even Australia.
“I don’t mind them thinking I’m nuts,” Couch said. “I’ve done my research and I feel plenty confident.”
Here’s the video of Couch’s flight last year:
Video? Kent Couch Lawn Chair Balloon Flight