Lawn Chair Balloon Flight Forced To Land

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BEND, Ore., (UPI) — A lawn chair balloon flight for two men was forced to land early in Oregon due to variable wind, thunderstorms and the loss of 35 helium-filled balloons.

Kent Couch and Fareed Lafta hoped to reach Montana by Sunday in their specially built, two lawn chair rig, but were forced to land just hours after they took off Saturday, flight spokesman Mark Knowles told CNN.

Knowles said first Couch and Lafta lost 35 balloons, which made it difficult for them to reach the right altitude and when they finally got high enough, the wind currents weren’t strong enough.

Then, a thunderstorm hit.

“Fareed said it was hailing and snowing on them,” said Lance Schliep, a member of the chase crew. “They got real concerned about that. They wanted to get down.”

Couch and Lafta ended up landing in a farmer’s field.

Schliep helped Couch design and construct the rig.

“We would put it together, keep making changes and take it apart,” he said. “It was very exciting and fun to do. It’s just disappointing at this stage.”

The team’s Web site says Couch and Lafta, an Iraqi, plan on launching a cluster balloon craft to raise awareness of the plight of Iraqi orphans later this year.

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