Bad weather in central Oregon forced lawn chair balloonists to land

Bad weather in central Oregon forced lawn chair balloonists to land
Oregon gas station owner Kent Couch and Iraqi adventurer Fareed Lafta lift off Saturday, July 14, 2012, from Couch's gas station in Bend, Ore., as they attempt to fly some 360 miles to Montana. The flight is a warm-up for a future flight planned in Iraq. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

BEND, Ore. — An Oregon gas station owner and an Iraqi adventurer trying to fly from Central Oregon to Montana have been forced to abort their flight to Montana due to thunderstorms.

Cheered by several hundred supporters, Kent Couch and Fareed Lafta lifted off Saturday morning from a Shell gas station in Bend, Ore.

Earlier, volunteers filled 350 5-foot-diameter balloons with helium and tied them to Couch's homemade tandem lawn chair rig.

Winds first took them about 30 miles north, then pushed them back south, before sending them east, the direction they wanted to go.

But about six hours into the flight, flight organizer Mark Knowles said thunderstorms were forcing the duo to land.

A website tracker showed them near the town of Prineville, about 30 miles northeast of their starting point.

Flight organizer Mark Knowles says they made a hard landing, and got out of the craft, but it took off again.

The pair began their flight Saturday morning from Couch's gas station in Bend, Ore. It was a warm-up for a future flight over Iraq.

This is not Couch's first time taking to the skies in a lawn chair. Couch soared solo in a similar rig in 2008.

 

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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.