7:35 PM

Couch Flies
Chair to Idaho

Today Oregon is ground zero for flying lawn chairs, as gas station owner Kent Couch completed a flight from Bend, Oregon to Cambridge, Idaho. This is the same guy who tried this "flight" twice before but ran into aeronautical troubles both times.

But today, he was finally successful, flying a piece of lawn furniture lofted skyward by more than 150 party balloons filled with helium. According to Associated Press which was all over this story, Couch covered 235 miles in about nine hours. By my calculations, that's roughly 26.11 miles per hour, not too shabby for a chair.

In case you have been camping under a rock for several years and haven't heard about people trying to fly chairs, here's the drill:

While journalists and bloggers have a good time calling Couch's rig a "flying lawn chair", it is actually quite a bit more sophisticated then that. According to AP's report, the chair, the pilot and his parachute weighed about 600 pounds. Each of the 5-foot in diameter balloons can create four pounds of lift. To keep from ending up on Mars, Couch carried a Red Ryder BB gun to blast away a few balloons at a time to control altitude. In the name of redundancy, he also carried a "blow gun" equipped with steel darts. In his "cockpit" were several GPS devices, an altimeter, satellite phone, along with some food. It should be noted that his chair's menu of beef jerky and chocolate offered a better selection for in-flight edibles then most major airlines.
What I find interesting is this guy's choice of yard furniture as a means to fly. He has sky dived and flown hang gliders before, so he knows of other ways to experience flight then to be hoisted through the jet stream under a canopy of balloons.

I congratulate Kent on finally completing this long-held dream to get to Idaho in a flying chair. Not many people can say they've done likewise. Now with that dream in the can, maybe he can actually begin taking flying lessons to earn at least a Sport Pilot certificate and fly for real. That way, the FAA won't be quite so "amused" each time he drifts aimlessly through their airspace.

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