Man flies 190 odd miles with baloons and a garden chair!

TOP MAN!!! Its been done before, but what a geezer IMHO


or below without pics

BEND, Ore. - Last weekend, Kent Couch settled down in his lawn chair with some snacks — and a parachute. Attached to his lawn chair were 105 large helium balloons.

Destination: Idaho.

With instruments to measure his altitude and speed, a global positioning system device in his pocket, and about four plastic bags holding five gallons of water each to act as ballast — he could turn a spigot, release water and rise — Couch headed into the Oregon sky.

Nearly nine hours later, the 47-year-old gas station owner came back to earth in a farmer’s field near Union, short of Idaho but about 193 miles from home.

“When you’re a little kid and you’re holding a helium balloon, it has to cross your mind,” Couch told the Bend Bulletin.

“When you’re laying in the grass on a summer day, and you see the clouds, you wish you could jump on them,” he said. “This is as close as you can come to jumping on them. It’s just like that.”

Couch is the latest American to emulate Larry Walters — who in 1982 rose three miles above Los Angeles in a lawn chair lifted by balloons. Walters had surprised an airline pilot, who radioed the control tower that he had just passed a guy in a lawn chair. Walters paid a $1,500 penalty for violating air traffic rules.

It was Couch’s second flight.

'It was beautiful'
In September, he got off the ground for six hours. Like Walters, he used a BB gun to pop the balloons, but he went into a rapid descent and eventually parachuted to safety.

This time, he was better prepared. The balloons had a new configuration, so it was easier to reach up and release a bit of helium instead of simply cutting off a balloon.

He took off at 6:06 a.m. Saturday after kissing his wife, Susan, goodbye and petting his Chihuahua, Isabella. As he made about 25 miles an hour, a three-car caravan filled with friends, family and the dog followed him from below.

Couch said he could hear cattle and children, and he said he even passed through clouds.

“It was beautiful — beautiful,” he told KTVZ-TV. He described the flight as mostly peaceful and serene, with occasional turbulence, like a hot-air balloon ride sitting down.

'Fulfilled his dream'
Couch decided to stop when he was down to a gallon of water and just eight pounds of ballast. Concerned about the rugged terrain outside La Grande, including Hells Canyon, he decided it was time to land.

He popped enough balloons to set the craft down, although he suffered rope burns. But after he jumped out, the wind grabbed his chair, with his video recorder, and the remaining balloons and swept them away. He’s hoping to get them back some day.

Brandon Wilcox, owner of Professional Air, which charters and maintains planes at the Bend airport, said Thursday that Couch definitely did it. Wilcox said he flew a plane nearby while Couch traveled, and a passenger videotaped the flying lawn chair.

Whether Couch will take a third trip is up to his wife, and Susan Couch said she’s thinking about saying no. But she said she was willing to go along with last weekend’s trip.

“I know he’d be thinking about it more and more, it would always be on his mind,” she said. “This way, at least he’s fulfilled his dream.”

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Yeah Right
I really thought this was one of those urban legend type deals of the kind you read in the Darwin Awards! What a lunatic!! :D


Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
So, it was a chair and a couch


Book Reviewer
hornepils said:
I really thought this was one of those urban legend type deals of the kind you read in the Darwin Awards! What a lunatic!! :D
I read about the original nutter on the Darwins. It was reported (untrue sadly) that a 747 pilot en route to LAX radioed in to report an armed man flying a deck chair at 16,000 feet and carrying a six pack.

The true tale from Wiki...

The story goes that Walters had always dreamed of flying but was unable to become a pilot in the United States Air Force due to bad eyesight. He first came up with the idea of using weather balloons to fly at age 13, when seeing them hanging from the ceiling of an Army Navy surplus store. His original plan was to attach a couple of helium-filled weather balloons to his lawnchair, then cut the anchor and float above his backyard at a height of about 30 feet for a few hours, finally using a pellet gun to pop the balloons one after another to float gently to the ground again.

Preparation and launch

Walters and his girlfriend, Carol Van Deusen, purchased 45 four-foot weather balloons and helium tanks at California Toy Time Balloons. To avoid suspicion, they used a forged requisition from his employer, FilmFair Studios, saying the balloons were for a television commercial shoot. Walters then attached the balloons to his lawnchair, filled them with helium, donned a parachute, and strapped himself to the chair with a pellet gun (with which he intended to shoot the balloons to lower himself), a CB radio, sandwiches, soft drinks, and a camera. After that, things did not work out as he had planned. When his friends cut the cord that had tied his lawnchair to his Jeep, Walters' lawnchair, which was planned to rise 100 feet above the ground, quickly rose to a height of about 16,000 feet (3 miles); he did not dare shoot any balloons, fearing that he might unbalance the load. He drifted over Long Beach and crossed the primary approach corridor of Long Beach airport.

After spending about 45 minutes in the sky, though, he came to the conclusion that he would have to shoot a few balloons after all; doing so caused him to descend slowly again, until the balloon's dangling cables got caught in a power line, causing a blackout in a Long Beach neighborhood for 20 minutes, but also allowing Walters to climb down to the ground again.

Arrest and notoriety

He was immediately arrested by waiting members of the LAPD; when asked by a reporter why he had done it, Walters replied "a man can't just sit around." He was later fined US$4,000 by the Federal Aviation Administration for violations of the Federal Aviation Act, including operating a "civil aircraft for which there is not currently in effect an airworthiness certificate" and operating an aircraft within an airport traffic area "without establishing and maintaining two-way communications with the control tower." Walters appealed, and the fine was reduced to US$1,500.[1]

Walters also received the top prize from the Bonehead Club of Dallas for his adventure, as well as invitations to The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman and an honorable mention in 1982's Darwin Awards. His lawn-chair balloon was also featured in an episode of Mythbusters.


Book Reviewer
Good man!
There are another set of awards, IIRC, the Dodo award, for doing something so silly it will make you extinct.

IIRC there was a chap in Arkansas or somewhere, who strapped a commercial/industrial solid fuel rocket to the roof of his Corvette Stingray in the 70s I believe. The problem with this type of rocket is that you cannot stop it or regulate the power.

He took the machine up to about 100mph or more, on a desserted desert highway, and then lit the touch paper....

The 'Vette took off, spiralling madly like a bullet, and embedded itself, about a hundred feet up, in one of those big cliff things you see in cowboy movies....
"...violations of the Federal Aviation Act, including operating a "civil aircraft for which there is not currently in effect an airworthiness certificate" "

Quality! :D Well done that man!
So let me get this straight a guy called "Walter" wanted to be a pilot.. but had no qualifications/training so nearly killed himself trying to show his girlfriend he could actually fly?
Was he LOF too?
welshblokemiles said:
"...violations of the Federal Aviation Act, including operating a "civil aircraft for which there is not currently in effect an airworthiness certificate" "

Quality! :D Well done that man!
I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall when he arrived at the FAA and showed them the "aircraft" he wanted checked for airworthiness. Good drills on taking a chute though, almost makes Darwin Award a non-starter. Presumably he packed it himself?? :twisted:

Latest Threads