Lawn Chair Balloon Pilot Rescued in Washington After Landing 40 Feet Up in Tree
Give him points for effort!
A LaCenter, Washington, man is lucky to have escaped injury or death after his attempt to break two world records went haywire.
60-year-old Joe Barbara took off around 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning in a lawn chair attached to 100 helium balloons. Barbara, celebrating his birthday, had hoped to travel at least 268 miles and stay aloft for at least 13 hours, which would both be world armchair balloon records.
However, he had to shed much of his equipment -- even his shoes -- on takeoff because the craft wouldn't get off the ground. Many of the balloons began popping, making take-off difficult. Then, after becoming airborne and drifting towards the Columbia Gorge, he reached an altitude of 20,000 feet! That became an issue because he wasn't carrying oxygen with him.
However, he gradually began to lose altitude and finally landed "safely" 40 feet up in a tree near the Lewis River in southeast Washington. Fortunately, he was carrying GPS equipment since he lost radio contact with his ground team. They were able to locate him and get him down from the tree safety.
According to the GPS tracking he carried, Barbara traveled less than 35 miles and was aloft for less than five hours -- falling well short of the records he was trying to break.