Kent Couch created a sensation in this tiny farming community, where he touched down safely in a pasture after lifting off from Bend, Ore., and was soon greeted by dozens of people who gave him drinks of water, local plumber Mark Hetz said. “My wife works at the City Market,” Hetz said. “She called and said, ‘The balloon guy in the lawn chair just flew by the market, and if you look out the door you can see him. “We go outside to look, and lo and behold, there he is. He’s flying by probably 100 to 200 feet off the ground.Couch covered about 235 miles (about 370 kilometers) in about nine hours after lifting off at dawn from his gas station riding in a green lawn chair rigged with an array of more than 150 giant party balloons.
Couch got a push from the ground crew so he could clear light poles and soared over a coffee cart and across U.S. Highway 20 into a bright blue sky. “If I had the time and money and people, I’d do this every weekend,” Couch said before getting into the chair. “Things just look different from up there. You’ve moving so slowly. The best thing is the peace, the serenity. Watch Couch explain why balloon flying is “a beautiful thing” » “Originally, I wanted to do it because of boyhood dreams. I don’t know about girls, but I think most guys look up in the sky and wish they could ride on a cloud.” Couch’s wife, Susan, called him crazy: “It’s never been a dull moment since I married him.” This was Couch’s third balloon flight.
Each balloon gives four pounds of lift. The chair was about 400 pounds, and Couch and his parachute 200 more. “I’d go to 30,000 feet if I didn’t shoot a balloon down periodically,” Couch said. He also had a pole with a hook for pulling in balloons, a parachute in case anything went wrong, a handheld Global Positioning System device with altimeter, a satellite phone, and two GPS tracking devices. One was one for him, the other for the chair, which got away in the wind as he landed last year. For food he carried some boiled eggs, jerky and chocolate. Couch flew hang gliders and skydived before taking up lawn-chair flights. He estimated the rig cost about $6,000, mostly for helium. Costs were defrayed by corporate sponsors. (Source: CNN)