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Mon, Jun 25, 2012

Next 'Cluster Balloon' Flight Will Be For Two

Iraqi Skydiver To Accompany Kent Couch In July Flight

It's the stuff of cartoons, except that it really works. In 2008, Kent Couch managed to fly a lawn chair suspended under dozens of party balloons some 235 miles from Bend, OR, to a farmers field in Idaho.

But when he next attempts such a flight, which right now is planned for July 14th, Couch will have a passenger. His friend, described as Iraqi "adventurer and skydiver" Fareed Lafta, will be seated in a second lawn chair underneath 350 balloons.

Television station KATU reports that the pair hopes to fly over 400 miles, from Couch's convenience store and gas station in Bend to somewhere in southwestern Montana. The flight is expected to have the pair aloft through the night. Couch said they won't be able to fly above FL180 due to FAA regulations, but should still be able to attain enough altitude to go that distance.

The pair plans to make another flight this year, ascending from a soccer stadium in Baghdad. They had wanted to make that flight last year, but it was scrubbed when Iraqi officials said they could not provide sufficient security for the takeoff.

Couch flies under a cluster of colorful balloons with enough lift to get him airborne. When he's ready to descend, he pulls out a Red Ryder BB gun and pops just enough balloons to start him towards the ground. Flight Coordinator Mark Knowles said they hope they are able to have an official observer on hand for the July 14th flight to have it certified in the Guinness Book of World Records. (Pictured: Kent Couch Image from file)



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