A Unique Way to Celebrate America's Birthday!
Most Americans celebrate the Fourth of July by relaxing on their lawn chairs and eating hot dogs - not Kent Couch. For the last three years he has spent the day preparing to 'take off' in his lawn chair, with the help of 150 helium-filled balloons, in his quest to fly 230 miles, from Central Oregon to Idaho.
Then, as has also been his tradition for the last three years, on July 5th, while most of us are still sleeping, he takes off from the parking lot of his gas station in Bend,Oregon.
Kent's 'flight machine' has no engine but he had the dynamics figured out. He has with him about 45 gallons of cherry Kool-Aid - which he starts to trickle down if needs a lift-off. However, if he is flying too high, he just pops one or more balloons with his Red Ryder BB gun, and comes right to the level he wants to be at.
In addition to that, he has a Global Positioning Device (GPS), which allows his loved ones and the rest of the world to keep track of where he is at all times. He also has with him a parachute, a blanket and for nourishment - some beef jerky, candy bars and hard-boiled eggs. Since there is no bathroom on his 'plane' - he has very little water!
Kent, who got this idea from a truck driver who did a similar flight over Los Angeles in 1982, says he loves doing this and would do it every weekend if he could afford it. While his first flight was self-financed, he now even has a corporate sponsor who underwrote the $6,000 cost, most of which was spent on the helium for the balloons.
Kent's first attempt was not very successful, resulting in him having to parachute down because he popped too many balloons. In 2007, he did much better, flying over 193 miles, but landing short of his goal by about 37 miles, in Northeastern Oregon.
However, third time's the charm and nine hours after lifting off, Kent made a graceful landing in a pea field in the tiny farming community of Cambridge, Idaho. His unusual mode of travel and landing by popping balloons created quite a stir in this quiet town of 300 people.
We have a feeling Kent's not done with his 'lawn chair' adventures - he just isn't the kind of person to use his lawn chair for simply hanging out! - Happy 4th of July to all of you!