Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Up Up and Away

You amateur aviators out there might be entertained with this story from CNN. Apparently a gentleman named Kent Couch spent last Saturday afternoon flying his lawn chair around the state of Oregon. Couch was trying to emulate the flying skills of Larry Walters -- who in 1982 rose three miles above Los Angeles in a lawn chair lifted by balloons. Couch took a 9 hour 163 mile flight last Saturday, taking off from his back yard and landing in a farmer’s field 193 miles away. He brought a few snacks and a parachute in case he had to bail out. Apparently his previous flight ended in an unanticipated skydive when he shot too many balloons with his BB gun in an effort to control his altitude. Who say’s Americans are no longer capable of great things?

Apparently in this little stunt has been turned into a full-fledged sport called "Cluster Ballooning". The idea is not, ahem, rocket science. What you do is attach a bunch of big-ass helium balloons to a harness, release some ballast when you want to go up and pop the balloons when you want to come down. The method seems hardly scientific enough to ensure gentle rises or soft landings. Nevertheless, cluster balloon, ah, aficionados, have their own website which asks the (one would imagine) infrequently asked question, "Have you ever dreamed of being carried into the sky by a giant bouquet of colorful toy balloons?" Those of you who have in fact asked such a question may find the answer there.


martin j. cummins said...

amateur. is affectionado a word?
there was also an australian who pulled a similar stunt. larry did have to pay a fine. a few years following larry, a man in massachusetts pulled the same stunt. i believe that he rose as high as 9,000 feet. he ended up with a fine of something like $4,000. additionally, there was a movie from new zealand called danny deckchair that is about a man who drifts away in a helium aided lawnchair.

Mark said...

Corrections have been made. I should give you my password so you can do the editing. That's a big fine for an afternoon of flying around in patio furniture.

Anonymous said...

Since I couldn't find a round trip ticket to Spain in the off season for less than $650, this might be a reasonable and cheaper alternative. I will have to remember to bring some food with me when I go in the balloon chair. It is also necessary to provide one's own in-flight entertainment. Perhaps I could put some food and an i-pod inside a balloon and shoot it with a bb gun when I get hungry and want something to listen to.

Mark said...

I’m thinking that being three miles up in the air strapped to a lawn chair being carried around by balloons is pretty much all the entertainment you’d need.