PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- Joe Barbera's quest to fly a lawn chair to at least Idaho ended much sooner than expected when he became stuck in a tree in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Barbera, who turned 60 on Friday, took off in his homemade lawn chair powered by helium balloons in the early hours of Saturday morning. His goal was to set a world record by flying 268 miles from Washington to Idaho a lawn chair powered by helium balloons.
The retired engineer launched "Imagine" -- the name he gave the lawn chair -- from his house in La Center, Washington. But trouble began while he was on the ground when some of the balloons popped before he launched.
He did manage to fly about 25 miles and ended up stuck in a tree for almost six hours. Searchers tracked him using GPS.
"I was heading toward the Columbia River. Then I headed north, then there were air pockets. Then once I got low below the clouds they got kind of rough," he told KOIN 6 News. "And I just knew I was going down so I just kind of braced myself."
Two things went wrong, he said. One was the lack of wind.
"Secondly we were having trouble with the balloons themselves not holding enough helium. So we ended up not using about 20% of what we had. So we left with less lift and therefore less balance."
He ditched supplies like his GPS, oxygen and medicine.
The lawn chair reached an altitude of 20,000 feet, he said, but couldn't stay balanced.
"I really gave up the record and the record attempt by choosing this day."
Barbera, who was not hurt, said it was worth it, but will think whether he wants to try again.
"I would certainly love to. The time and the resources are quite significant. I think I have a lot of other adventures I need to move on to."
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