Kent Couch is my hero.
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.
With instruments to measure his altitude and speed, a global positioning system device in his pocket, and about four plastic bags holding five gallons of water each to act as ballast — he could turn a spigot, release water and rise — Couch headed into the Oregon sky.
I’m confident my wife would never let me try this stunt. And frankly I’d be really embarrassed if I died in the attempt. But this is the sort of thing that I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid. And Couch had the guts to try it. Twice.
Couch is the latest American to emulate Larry Walters — who in 1982 rose three miles above Los Angeles in a lawn chair lifted by balloons. Walters had surprised an airline pilot, who radioed the control tower that he had just passed a guy in a lawn chair.
I suppose there will be other copycats, probably not including me (alas!). It’ll all be fun and games until some guy goes up with a case of beer for ballast and then falls out of his chair unconscious and unable to pull the ripcord on his chute while he plummets to his death somewhere over Nebraska.
Then there will be laws passed against elevating one’s self in a lawn chair without a license, or crossing state laws while reposing on outdoor furniture.
But until then, my hat is off to Kent Couch, my design hero of the day, for courage in the line of reclining, and for elevating his game above and beyond the call of common sense.