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Bad Weather Grounds U.S.-Iraqi Balloon-Suspended Lawn-Chair Flight


Iraqi astronaut turned lawn-chair adventurer Fareed Lafta

Iraqi astronaut turned lawn-chair adventurer Fareed Lafta

An American gas-station owner and an Iraqi adventurer attempting a long-distance flight in tandem lawn chairs suspended by helium balloons have been grounded by bad weather.

Kent Couch and Fareed Lafta spent seven hours aloft in an attempt to float from the U.S. state of Oregon to Montana, but were forced to descend late on July 14 because of thunderstorms.

Lafta, a mountain climber and sky diver who is also Iraq's first qualified astronaut, said the stunt was meant to "inspire Iraqis and say we need to defeat terrorists."

The men's tandem lawn chairs were attached to 350 helium balloons in the colors of the U.S. and Iraqi flags.

Couch and Lafta say they intend to stage a similar balloon-suspended lawn-chair flight in Baghdad.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

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