Yippeee! Couch flies again, and lands, safely! I can only imagine the magic of seeing him waft down thru a blue sky in an Idaho farm field on a clear summer day, popping balloons, spilling kool-aid and smiling. He handed out some of his balloons to those who came to see him land. Wow, thinking of that sight has great potential to be one’s “happy place.” Great job Kent! Nice timing on the Fourth of July weekend too. Yeahhh!!
Kent also has a website which includes tons of info about his aerialÂ endeavors. Check it out here.Â
Larry Walters, lawn chair aviation pioneer, would be proud of this flight. For more on Kent’s previous try click here. Click here for a link to video which is actually very good. Pardon the Brit speak in the article below.
Kent Couch flies to Idaho with some balloons, a garden chair and a ‘big dream’
By Tom Leonard in New York | www.telegraph.co.uk | Telegraph – Print Version | 07/07/2008
Man’s indomitable dream of flight turned over a new chapter this weekend as a man, a garden chair and a large bunch of giant party balloons sailed into the records book.
In a craft that could have been plucked straight from a Heath Robinson cartoon and deposited into the skies of the northwest United States, Kent Couch covered about 235 miles over Oregon and Idaho in about nine hours.
Taking off from his hometown of Bend, Oregon, in a green garden chair suspended from more than 150 helium-filled balloons, he sailed across the state’s high desert and into Idaho where he landed in a field in Cambridge, a very surprised farming community.
Mr Couch, a 48-year-old petrol station owner who has described his mode of flight as “not that dangerous”, navigated with a GPS satellite-guided tracking device but other aviation techniques were as unconventional as the aircraft.
Take-off was assisted by throwing out ballast in the form cherry-flavoured Kool-Aid, a sickly-sweet soft drink which the pilot spilled from his chair.
The landing was equally novel â€“ Mr Couch pulled out a ball-bearing gun and kept shooting balloons until he came down to the ground.
“If I had the time and money and people, I’d do this every weekend,” said Mr Couch.
“Things just look different from up there. You’ve moving so slowly. The best thing is the peace, the serenity.
“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.”
His wife, Susan, said he was eccentric. “It’s never been a dull moment since I married him,” she said.
It was his third attempt at reaching Idaho. In 2006, he had to parachute out after he popped too many balloons.
Last year, Mr Couch flew 193 miles, coming down just before he managed to get out of Oregon.
As a result, he had added more balloons for his third attempt. Dozens of volunteers wearing “Dream Big” t-shirts filled five feet diameter balloons and attached them to strings in clusters of six.
Each balloon provided four pounds of lift. The chair weighed about 400 pounds, and the pilot and his parachute about 200 more.
“I’d go to 30,000 feet if I didn’t shoot a balloon down periodically,” Mr Couch said.
He supplemented his BB gun with a blowgun equipped with steel darts. He also had a pole with a hook for pulling in balloons, a satellite phone and supplies of boiled eggs, beef jerky and chocolate.
Mr Couch, a former hang-glider pilot, said he was inspired after watching a television show about a 1982 lawn chair flight over Los Angeles by Larry Walters.
Mr Walters became a local hero but was fined $1,500 for violating air traffic rules.
Local people in Cambridge rushed to meet Mr Couch as he flew past the town some 100 to 200 feet off the ground.
“He takes his BB gun and shoots some balloons to lower himself to the ground,” said Mark Hetz, a local plumber.
“When he hit the ground he released all the little tiny balloons. People were racing down the road with cameras. They were all talking and laughing.”