Using his trusty BB gun to help him return to Earth, a 48-year-old gas station owner flew a lawn chair rigged with helium-filled balloons more than 200 miles across the Oregon desert Saturday, landing in a field in Idaho.
Kent Couch created a sensation in the tiny farming community of Cambridge, Idaho, where he touched down safely in a pasture 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.
“We go outside to look, and lo and behold, there he is. He's flying by probably 100 to 200 feet off the ground.”
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Couch covered about 235 miles 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.
It began after Couch, clutching a big mug of coffee, kissed his wife and kids goodbye.
After spilling off some cherry-flavored Kool-Aid that served as ballast, 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.
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. He realized it would be possible after watching a TV show about the 1982 lawn chair flight over Los Angeles of truck driver Larry Walters.