Fly Away: Man Uses Balloon, Lawn Chair to Float Away
Kent Couch used balloons and a lawn chair to fly above the Oregon sky.
July 11, 2007 — -- When the mischievous children's book monkey Curious George wanted a lift, he simply grabbed onto a bunch of brightly colored balloons and sailed away.
In real life, an Oregon man has followed his lead — and added a lawn chair.
Kent Couch traveled nearly 200 miles and more than nine hours in such a contraption Saturday, with little more than a pair of sunglasses, a radio and a parachute at his side. He attached more than 100 helium-filled balloons to his lawn chair and took off from his gas station in Bend, Ore.
"It was serene, just like you're on top of a cloud laying there," Couch said on "Good Morning America" today. "It was just like being on ice, nice and smooth."
Couch traveled as high as 13,000 feet as he floated eastward toward his intended destination of Idaho. He said he heard cattle and children as he drifted among the clouds, using water jugs to control his altitude.
This fanciful odyssey had an inspiration: Couch had once seen a television show about how such a feat could be accomplished. The episode was inspired by Larry "Lawn Chair" Walters, who floated over Los Angeles using weather balloons in 1982.
Couch and his supplies weighed about 310 pounds, and each balloon weighed about 5 pounds. He used approximately 200 pounds of ballast to keep him anchored at the appropriate altitude.
Couch's wife, Susan, and friends helped him build the flying lawn chair.
"I was terrified, but I was being supportive," Susan said. "I know once something gets in his mind he's not going to forget it."
But it wasn't all smooth sailing. The 47-year-old said just when he began to question what he was doing, the makeshift aircraft ran into turbulence.
Couch touched down in a field near Union, Ore., not quite making it to his Idaho target. The father of five said he would love to take his lawn chair for another flight, this time ending in Idaho. But, he said he is unsure whether his wife would allow him to do so — helium-filled balloons, in turns out, are very expensive.