Storms Ground Lawn-Chair Balloon Flight

Two men had been seeking to fly from Oregon to Montana in their rig.

Up, up and away ... in lawn chairs. At least for a while Saturday.

An Oregon gas station owner and an Iraqi man trying to fly from central Oregon to Montana were forced to abort their flight Saturday due to thunderstorms, according to media reports. They were flying in a rig made up of two lawn chairs being lifted by helium-filled balloons.

What is your reaction to this attempt? Was it foolhardy or heroic? Tell us in the comments below.

About six hours into their flight, Kent Couch and Fareed Lafta started to descend from an altitude of 10,000 feet because of the weather, according to Fox News.

The website tracker showed them about five miles south of the town of Prineville, about 30 miles northeast of their starting point. The men initially floated about 40 miles north before winds sent them back south, then east, the direction they wanted to go.

Flight organizer Mark Knowles said the balloonists were pelted by hail and snow and buffeted by turbulence before reaching the ground, but they were not injured.

However, the craft was lost, as winds picked it up and carried it away after they landed.

Earlier Saturday, about 90 volunteers and several hundred onlookers counted down and cheered as the pair lifted off from Couch's gas station in Bend.

According to CBS News, the men had hoped to fly through the night across the mountains of Idaho and touch down Sunday morning in southwestern Montana. Because they expected to float at an altitude of 15,000-18,000 feet, where temperatures drop to near zero, they packed sleeping bags.

Their rig included 800 pounds of ballast — red Kool-Aid in 40-gallon barrels. Other than a GPS, navigation gear, satellite phone, oxygen, two-way radios, eight cameras, and parachutes, they were carrying two BB rifles and a pair of blowguns to shoot out enough balloons to land when the time was right.


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