Weather Stops Tandem Lawn Chair Balloon Flight
An Oregon gas station owner and an Iraqi adventurer trying to fly from Central Oregon to Montana were forced to abort their flight to Montana on Saturday due to thunderstorms.
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, flight organizer Mark Knowles told The Associated Press.
The website tracker showed them about five miles south of the town of Prineville, about 30 miles northeast of their starting point. The pair initially floated about 40 miles north before winds sent them back south, then east, the direction they wanted to go.
“Thunderstorms are around them,” Knowles said by cellphone. “We’ve got visual contact. I can’t see their faces.”
About 90 volunteers and several hundred onlookers counted down and then cheered as the pair lifted off from Couch’s Shell gas station. The duo safely cleared a two-story motel, a coffee stand and a light post. They floated about 30 miles north, then winds pushed them back to the south, before sending them to the east, the direction they wanted to go.
“The interesting thing is, anybody can do this,” Couch, the veteran of several lawn chair balloon flights, said before the flight. “They don’t have to sit on the couch thinking, ‘I should have done it.’ They can do it.”