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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lawn Chair Dreamer Soars Over 310 Kilometers

BEND, Oregon -- Last weekend, Kent Couch settled down in his lawn chair with some snacks -- and a parachute. Attached to his lawn chair were 105 large helium balloons.

Destination: Idaho.

With instruments to measure his altitude and speed and four plastic bags with 19 liters of water each for ballast -- he could turn a spigot, release water and rise -- Couch headed into the Oregon sky.

Nearly nine hours later, the 47-year-old came back to earth in a farmer's field, short of Idaho but about 310 kilometers from home.

"When you're a little kid and you're holding a helium balloon, it has to cross your mind," Couch told a local newspaper. "When you're laying in the grass on a summer day, and you see the clouds, you wish you could jump on them," he said. "This is as close as you can come to jumping on them. It's just like that."

Couch is the latest American to emulate Larry Walters, who in 1982 rose 5 kilometers above Los Angeles in a similar stunt. A surprised pilot radioed a control tower that he had just passed a guy in a lawn chair. Walters paid a $1,500 penalty for violating air traffic rules.

Last weekend's trip was Couch's second flight. In September, he flew for six hours. Like Walters, he used a pellet gun to pop his balloons, but he went into a rapid descent and eventually had to parachute to safety.

This time he managed a more controlled descent, though he suffered rope burns. After he jumped out, the wind caught his chair -- along with his video camera -- and swept it away.

Brandon Wilcox, owner of Professional Air, which charters and maintains planes, said Couch definitely made the flight. Wilcox said he flew a plane nearby and took photos of the voyage.

Whether Couch will take a third trip is up to his wife, and she said she was thinking about saying no.

But she went along with last weekend's trip. "I know he'd be thinking about it more and more, it would always be on his mind," she said. "This way, at least he's fulfilled his dream."