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Bad Weather Brings Down Lawn Chair Balloonists

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the dull-the-sharpest-mind dept.

Transportation 62

Kent Couch and Fareed Lafta had their dreams of setting a world's record for the longest two-man cluster balloon flight dashed by bad weather and not kids with bb guns as you might expect. The men tied 350 balloons to lawn chairs and planned on flying from Bend, Oregon to Montana. The pair flew for about 30 minutes before having to land. From the article: "A post at the Facebook page for the project said wind had turned the balloonists around and pushed them back toward the town of Prineville, Oregon, and that thunderstorms heading toward the area were 'simply too much' for the balloons."

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Glad they survived (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40663143)

Oh... First?

What *NOT* to do.... (-1, Troll)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663173)

People who do this kind of stuff make me wonder whether or not evolution has even started happening yet.

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40663231)

People who do this kind of stuff make me wonder whether or not evolution has even started happening yet.

They had parachutes, so to me it seems no more dangerous than sky diving.

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#40671653)

People who do this kind of stuff make me wonder whether or not evolution has even started happening yet.

They had parachutes, so to me it seems no more dangerous than sky diving.

Well, it's also not as dangerous as playing Russian Roulette with a single barrelled shotgun, but that doesn't mean it's a sensible idea.

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40663287)

A guy tried this before with weather balloons and got up to 16,000 ft. Apparently he crossed over into LAX's landing path and eventually landed on some power lines. He survived and was fined by the FAA.

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (2)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663317)

Sure it is. I believe Larry Walters [wikipedia.org] won a Darwin Award for his contribution to the genome by not procreating. With these guys, though, we may already be screwed...do they have kids yet?

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (4, Informative)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663503)

Walters' flight was successful and non-fatal, though he did commit suicide later in life. You might be thinking of Adelir Antonio de Carli [wikipedia.org] .

when asked by a reporter why he had done it, Walters replied, "A man can't just sit around."

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (2)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663665)

Walters' flight was successful and non-fatal, though he did commit suicide later in life. You might be thinking of Adelir Antonio de Carli [wikipedia.org] .

when asked by a reporter why he had done it, Walters replied, "A man can't just sit around."

But apparently he can just sit around.... at 16000 feet.

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 2 years ago | (#40666235)

Nope, Walter received a Darwin Award despite surviving.

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40666323)

Apparently only a "Darwin Awards At-Risk Survivor" award, though, which is really just an honourable mention.

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (4, Insightful)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663357)

wonder whether or not evolution has even started happening yet.

It's not as bad as the summary sounds. They had the rigs outfitted a little better than just an aluminum chair duct-taped to some ballon strings. Also, both of them had parachutes in case of emergency.

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#40671659)

Also, both of them had parachutes in case of emergency.

Pussies.

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (4, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663361)

One of them was an experienced skydiver, and they were doing it in part to raise funds for orphans in Iraq, so yeah, you kinda look like an ass making that comment now (no offense, I'm sure you didn't know that). And since you have a ton of balloons, it's actually less risky in a way than most lighter-than-air flight, since a few balloons bursting will mean a slow gentle fall, not a rapid descent. Obviously, you don't want to let go of all of them, but if you do, thats why you carry a parachute (which they were).

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (3, Informative)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663507)

Hot air balloons can not burst. If there is a hole they simply make a gentle descent, unlike helium balloons that do burst. That is why hot air balloons have been popular with the military in the past, they can not be shot down easily.

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (0)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663585)

There was an episode of McGyver where he climbed out of the basket of a hot air balloon to duct tape a map by its corners to cover some bullet holes in the balloon. So obviously having a few finger sized holes in the balloon is riskier than that 10 foot diameter hole in the bottom.

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663719)

You're using an episode of McGyver to support a technical point?

Tell me, did you ever try and find the phone number for the A-team when you were younger?

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (2)

krakelohm (830589) | more than 2 years ago | (#40665623)

Hannibal's cell phone number: 555-6162.

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#40666877)

Well, clearly the bullet holes were dangerous enough to risk climbing out of the gondola to attempt a repair. And clearly it had nothing to do with the air-tightness of the balloon because of the giant hole in the bottom where the hot air gets in, and because he only taped the map by the corners as opposed to sealing it all the way around the edges...

Perhaps it was to prevent the light from the burners from giving away his position.

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#40671769)

Hot air balloons can not burst. If there is a hole they simply make a gentle descent, unlike helium balloons that do burst. That is why hot air balloons have been popular with the military in the past, they can not be shot down easily.

That is true but irrelevant, as they were using helium filled balloons according to TFA.

Re:What *NOT* to do.... (4, Insightful)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 2 years ago | (#40664577)

Well, without failed forks, false starts, and unfruitful developments evolution would not work...
When Homo erectus appeared on the evolutionary scene I'm sure there were plenty of knuckle walkers commenting things like "Oh, walking around with his head up he'll miss all the juicy bugs on the ground." and "Standing that tall he will run into a tree limb and kill himself." Of course in those days moderation was a rock to the head so they may not have expressed their opinions to others.

When the failures stop, evolution has stalled. Progress is made by people that are willing to do something, even if it turns out sub-optimally.

Bzzzzzzzt (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663183)

Last time I was through that part of the state there was really violent storms here and there, power was out in Sisters, some guy got struck by lightning near John Day...not the brightest idea, going aloft during electrical storm season.

Re:Bzzzzzzzt (1)

starworks5 (139327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663255)

There are supposed to be thunderstorms today and tomorrow, but i don't seem to think of "really violent storms" here, its usually quite mild in comparison to other places.

Re:Bzzzzzzzt (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663805)

These were really extreme squalls, pretty atypical for eastern Oregon like you say. I grew up there and know about how it's usually just windy and dry. We're expecting T-storms today here in the Willamette Valley so something's afoot; these guys perhaps just picked the wrong day. Or year; even round here the sun usually puts in a permanent appearance for a few months starting in July. Guess it's the price we pay for not being baked alive like the rest of the country.

Real Life UP house (5, Interesting)

RichMan (8097) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663215)

Re:Real Life UP house (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40664017)

okay, but their definition of a "house" is rather outside the norm.

What Slashdot needs (-1, Troll)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663225)

A "Morons" tag like Fark.

Re:What Slashdot needs (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663605)

I agree wholeheartedly. We could apply it to comments whose authors clearly jumped to conclusions.

We should also have a "knowledgeable people who use their practical skills to attempt an idea that seems insane to uninformed bystanders" tag, but that's not as short and appealing.

Re:What Slashdot needs (2)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663909)

You mean sort of like "Overrated" for "morons" and "Underrated" or "Insightful" for "knowledgeable people who use their practical skills to attempt an idea that seems insane to uninformed bystanders"?

Re:What Slashdot needs (0)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40666103)

While I believe a good dose of politeness in commenting is generally a good idea, somehow "Overrated", "Underrated" or "Insightful" does not designate the proper level of stupidity associated with lawn-chair ballooning. Of course, an article about flying lawn furniture would not normally appear on Slashdot (unless Linux was involved). I think this is the first "Troll" label I've gotten. Feels creepy.

Re:What Slashdot needs (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40666643)

Please explain where the stupidity lies, then. There's an experienced balloonist and experienced skydiver, both familiar with the characteristics of the atmosphere at the expected altitudes, who have carefully planned and executed a fundraising spectacle after a year of planning and preparation.

Just because something's inefficient or outwardly weird does not make it stupid. This coming weekend I'll be watching people make and set off explosives for the fun of it, in a controlled environment following more-than-adequate safety procedures. The worst injury I've heard of in a decade (or more... I've only recently gotten involved myself) of such events is a "sunburn" from a very bright thermite reaction.

Here's a few more equally-stupid ideas:

  • Walking on a taut cable suspended between two poles or buildings high above the ground
  • Sealing oneself inside a self-propelled metal can to be submerged in the ocean for months at a time
  • Using a steam engine to move a riverboat
  • Strapping humans into a chair on top of thousands of pounds of volatile fuel, in the hopes of propelling them fast enough that they fall beyond the curvature of the Earth and end up encircling the planet
  • Strapping humans into a chair on top of even more fuel in the hopes of propelling them into a very large nearby rock, along with a can of somewhat less fuel so then can propel themselves back.

Humans are stupid creatures, indeed!

Re:What Slashdot needs (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#40672021)

Here's a few more equally-stupid ideas:

Walking on a taut cable suspended between two poles or buildings high above the ground

Well from my point of view, that IS stupid

Your other examples are tasks which involve calculated risks, but which have a reason to be done in the first place.

Re:What Slashdot needs (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40672813)

Rope-walking (and lawn-chair flying) is also calculated risk, based on the skill of the person doing it, and the reason for doing it is to create a spectacle that will draw money to a particular organization.

Re:What Slashdot needs (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#40671843)

I agree wholeheartedly. We could apply it to comments whose authors clearly jumped to conclusions.

We should also have a "knowledgeable people who use their practical skills to attempt an idea that seems insane to uninformed bystanders" tag, but that's not as short and appealing.

They weren't that knowledgeable or they wouldn't have had to abandon their attempt after 30 minutes because they hadn't read the weather forecast.

Re:What Slashdot needs (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#40671893)

A "Morons" tag like Fark.

In slashdot terms, these geniuses are elite hackers well on the way to creating balloon-based space flight, plus they're anti-authoritarian so they get the knee-jerk anti-government vote too.

No wonder you were modded troll. You're lucky they didn't colour in the balloon pattern on GIMP or you'd be accused of being Microsoft shill too..

Just another day in Oregon (2)

starworks5 (139327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663235)

My home state, filled with some of the most "interesting" people you might imagine, for better or worse.

Also home of the OSDL and OSCON, the largest naked bike ride, and gorgeous natural beauty.

Re:Just another day in Oregon (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663311)

But you neglected the most important part of living in Oregon, are you a duck or beaver?

Re:Just another day in Oregon (4, Funny)

starworks5 (139327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663435)

Clearly you missed the MOST important part of living in oregon, Are you a raw food gluten free vegan bicyclist, or are you a carbon neutral organic polyculture pot farmer?

Re:Just another day in Oregon (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663885)

Or a Skoal chewing pickup driving redneck, to give the sparsely populated other half of the state its due. I can see these guys being brought down by .303 fire on their next outing.

Caliber (2)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#40666555)

Nobody in the USofA uses .303 - thats a British caliber.

Thirty ought six (30-06) would be the round of choice. Though 7.62x54R is very cheap.as are the bolt action Moisin-Nagant rifles that fire it.

Re:Caliber (1)

Skynyrd (25155) | more than 2 years ago | (#40666791)

Nobody in the USofA uses .303 - thats a British caliber.

Thirty ought six (30-06) would be the round of choice. Though 7.62x54R is very cheap.as are the bolt action Moisin-Nagant rifles that fire it.

Wrong. .303 isn't popular, but many of us have them.
You can still buy ammo at any decent gun store.

And yes, I bought mine in Oregon.

Re:Caliber (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#40672625)

Actually you can find the ammo at any decent sized sporting goods store as well, but just don't expect to find it at wally world.

Re:Caliber (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#40672541)

I love the 7.62x54R round, it is cheap (about $10 for a box of 20 if buying commercial with mil surplus being substantially less), can be accurate (you do seem to need to find the manufacturer your gun likes though) and can easily take all big game in North America. As to Moisin-Nagants, they are very inexpensive, I bought mine for $89 on sale a few years back but the quality of the Russian ones at that price point varies greatly (some are wall hangers, others are phenomenal shooters). I picked through about a dozen until I found the ex-sniper one in the batch and with an added scope, bedding, and a bit of trigger work it is about a 1 MOA firearm. Now what I really want is a Finnish M39 Moisin-Nagant as those are suppose to have incredible accuracy with their heavy barrels, less twist, and trigger work, but those are substantially more and difficult to find.

The .303 is used while not common isn't unheard of. One of the guys in the hunting party uses one and actually is shooting a Lee-Enfield No.4 Mk I and accuracy wise my M91/30 is better, but I really love the smoothness of the action of his Enfield.

Re:Just another day in Oregon (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663991)

I will give you that. I was only out there for a few months with work and dealt with mostly professionals, but would have to say neither. The looks I would get when I would mention that I hunt was quite funny as people who preach the wonders of all natural, organic, free range, grass fed, cage free, hormone free, and antibiotic free meat tried to reconcile actually going out and killing an animal for food your self and their world view. You should hear the lecture I get about the evils of hunting and firearms from my sister in law who insists on eating only the above mentioned type of meat and lives in Eugene. The biggest things I miss about being out there is the beer, that you can buy beer in the grocery store, and can buy it on a Sunday.

Re:Just another day in Oregon (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#40672057)

The biggest things I miss about being out there is the beer, that you can buy beer in the grocery store, and can buy it on a Sunday.

Hold on, so you chose to move somewhere where you can't buy drink on a Sunday. Do you now live in North Wales or something?

Re:Just another day in Oregon (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#40672353)

I have always lived in Minnesota, as in that is my permanent residence, but I happen to live close enough to Wisconsin that if I need to I can easily go get some.

Re:Just another day in Oregon (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | more than 2 years ago | (#40666195)

But you neglected the most important part of living in Oregon, are you a duck or beaver?

As someone who grew up in Oregon (Baker City to be exact), but is now a resident of Washington (Sound area)...

QUACK!!!

Re:Just another day in Oregon (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#40667729)

My username says it all.

Eric the Ack Acktor (1)

SuDZ (450180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663249)

Missed his shot at glory and fame with this one.

Very patriotic of them to choose the colors (5, Funny)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663387)

Very patriotic of them to choose to design their balloons to look like the flag of the greatest country on earth. The Dutch people salute them!

Lucky for them the winds weren't severe of them to give tribute to the French as well.

Re:Very patriotic of them to choose the colors (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40663499)

Hint: They are raising funds for children orphaned by a war in what country that is not the Netherlands?

Re:Very patriotic of them to choose the colors (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40663733)

Hint: They are raising funds for children orphaned by a war in what country that is not the Netherlands?

A country full of people that wouldn't know a joke if they had to vote for it in a presidential election.

Re:Very patriotic of them to choose the colors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40664455)

Hint: They are raising funds for children orphaned by a war in what country that is not the Netherlands?

A country full of people that wouldn't know a joke if they had to vote for it in a presidential election.

This link brought to you courtesy of Captain Obvious, and the Letter i!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Iraq [wikipedia.org]

Stop wasting helium! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40663841)

What brain-dead gas supplier sold these idiots enough helium to attempt this stunt? Don't they know that there's a worldwide helium shortage - that even now, a new restriction of He allocation has cut gas levels available to suppliers to 50-70% of last year's levels, and He prices on what's left have doubled?

Those of us who use helium for our jobs don't appreciate it being wasted on this crap. If these morons want to float on lawn chairs, use hydrogen - that'll get even more people watching them, and maybe when the first two or three go up in fireballs people will stop doing this idiotic stunt.

Re:Stop wasting helium! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40664315)

STFU, O shortsighted one!

We NEED to waste helium on this, so the market price goes up, so nuclear fusion becomes an economically attractive investment!

Re:Stop wasting helium! (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40664393)

They wanted to use hydrogen, but then then FAA would have required a no-smoking sign.

Re:Stop wasting helium! (3, Insightful)

blackicye (760472) | more than 2 years ago | (#40664475)

What brain-dead gas supplier sold these idiots enough helium to attempt this stunt? Don't they know that there's a worldwide helium shortage - that even now, a new restriction of He allocation has cut gas levels available to suppliers to 50-70% of last year's levels, and He prices on what's left have doubled?

Those of us who use helium for our jobs don't appreciate it being wasted on this crap. If these morons want to float on lawn chairs, use hydrogen - that'll get even more people watching them, and maybe when the first two or three go up in fireballs people will stop doing this idiotic stunt.

Helium is still obviously too cheap then, you'll just have to patiently wait till market forces correct the prices, so no kid will ever have a magically floating balloon again. (Not for less than $20 at least)

Re:Stop wasting helium! (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40668313)

I laughed out loud when I noticed the original poster has been modded Flamebait. How many levels is that true on?

Market forces are thoughtless (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 2 years ago | (#40668765)

Yeah, lets create a crisis by acting thoughtlessly (foolishly) so then reality forces us to have to face the problem.

The Market is far from reality, it merely is forced by hard realities eventually just like everything else is.

One could say the exact thing about a communist solution-- when it becomes scarce people just get smaller rations (except for a few corrupt people who get more than others.) Similar result with both opposing systems.

I would tax it so it lasts longer; maybe put that money into research... fusion perhaps... Ideally you run out around the time you can replace it; estimating when that day will come is not a simple guess... Even if you are wrong, you still delay shortages.

Re:Stop wasting helium! (3, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 2 years ago | (#40666461)

Welcome to capitalism, we don't do rationing of scarce resources, we simply raise prices. Anyone willing to pay the premium can blow it on whatever they want.

Re:Stop wasting helium! (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#40672095)

What brain-dead gas supplier sold these idiots enough helium to attempt this stunt? Don't they know that there's a worldwide helium shortage - that even now, a new restriction of He allocation has cut gas levels available to suppliers to 50-70% of last year's levels, and He prices on what's left have doubled?

Those of us who use helium for our jobs don't appreciate it being wasted on this crap. If these morons want to float on lawn chairs, use hydrogen - that'll get even more people watching them, and maybe when the first two or three go up in fireballs people will stop doing this idiotic stunt.

I agree, what's the point of balloons and airships if you don't get a good fireball every now and then?

Mind you, I can't say I have all that much sympathy for the "squeaky voices" industry that requires helium.

Everyone's a critic (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#40668963)

Jeez, everyone just land on these guys already. I'm sure you'all are perfect.
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