Kent Couch had a few stories, but little evidence of his trip across Oregon's skies in a lawn chair last summer &
The Bend resident planned to fly across the state to Idaho in his lawn chair, which was connected to more than 100 large helium balloons. But he landed early in Eastern Oregon.
A crew was waiting to help him, but the wind blew Couch off course &
leaving him to disembark alone. He jumped to the ground and tried to hold a rope tethering the chair. But the balloons yanked it away. His chair, cell, phone and other gear &
including a video camera that documented the trip &
He didn't have any other documentation of how serene and beautiful it was to float across the state.
"You remember the good and you remember the bad, but you don't remember everything," he said.
Couch offered a $500 reward for anyone who found the chair. He put a posting online with the question "Did you find my chair?" in several languages. He heard rumors that a pilot had seen it over Michigan. But he'd nearly given up hope.
Then earlier this month, a farmer near North Powder riding their property line came across the bundle. They hadn't heard of Couch's trip and called the local sheriff's department, who connected them with the lawn chair pilot.
The chair and gear were only about 13 miles from where Couch landed, near Union, and everything was intact. Couch had stuffed his equipment in a canvas bag, which largely protected the cell phone, camera, global positioning system and other gear.
Couch said he hasn't watched the video yet because he'd gotten rid of the necessary cables for the camera, thinking he'd never find it. But he says when he can, he'll show his friends and family his high-flying experience.
The idea to go by air came to him as a child.
"When you are holding a bunch of helium balloons, you get a little lift," he said. "As a kid if you look up at the sky, you get that idea of floating on a cloud or a magic carpet. ... that's living."
He attempted the flight twice. The first time he was off the ground for six hours but had to parachute down. The second time he was better prepared and traveled nearly 200 miles across the state and as high as 13,000 feet.
The second attempt launched him into the national media spotlight.
"I struggled with that a lot. Everywhere I went people said, 'Oh you're the balloon guy,' and I'd have to talk about it all over again," Couch said.
He says hasn't decided if there will be a third attempt.
Oregon's lawn chair pilot recovers gear