Last weekend, Bend gas station owner Kent Couch settled down in his lawn chair with some drinks and snacks – and a parachute.
Attached to the lawn chair were 105 balloons of various colors, each 4 feet around. Bundled together, the balloons rise three stories high.
Couch carried a global positioning system device, a two-way radio, a digital camcorder and a cell phone. He also had instruments to measure his altitude and speed and about four plastic bags holding five gallons of water each to act as a ballast – he could turn a spigot, release water and rise.
Nearly nine hours later, Couch was short of Idaho. But he was 193 miles from home, in a farmer’s field near Union, having crossed much of Oregon at 11,000 feet and higher.
Couch, 47, is the latest American to emulate Larry Walters – who in 1982 rose three miles above Los Angeles in a lawn chair lifted by balloons.