An Oregon gas station owner and his Iraqi co-pilot will take off today in two lawn chairs tethered to 350 balloons.
Kent Couch and Fareed Lafta will lift off from Couch’s Shell station in Bend, Ore., at 10 a.m. PST. The daredevil pair say they hope to clear at least 400 miles, which would mean a landing somewhere near southwestern Montana Sunday morning.
Eight hundred pounds of ballast, red Kool-Aid in barrels, will be on board with the men. They’ll also be equipped with a GPS, a satellite phone and parachutes.
“It seems simple – you know just putting some balloons on a lawn chair and taking off, but it gets a little more complicated than that,” Couch said.
When it comes time to land, Couch and Lafta will use a Red Ryder BB rifle to shoot out enough balloons to help them have a smooth landing.
The pair also plan to embark on another flight together in the fall, this time in Iraq.
“The ultimate goal is to do this in Iraq and do a fundraiser to raise awareness for the orphans in Iraq,” Couch said. “There’s over three and a half million of them over there that are just you know victims of their civil war.”
In 2008, Couch gained national attention when he floated 235 miles from Oregon to Idaho in a solo flight.
“It’s just an awesome thing to be able to go up, float just like a cloud would, and just float along the earth, no noise whatsoever,” he said. “If you’re going 50 miles an hour, you’re going as the wind goes, so you don’t have any wind on your face, it’s just, it’s just like you’re paralyzed up there in the sky, just floating along. It’s an amazing feeling.”