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In 2008, things went more smoothly. After lifting off at dawn July 5 with the help of volunteers, he floated at 35 mph across the high desert, reaching his goal of crossing the Idaho border. That’s when he pulled out his trusty BB rifle and shot out enough balloons to land in a pasture outside the farming community of Cambridge, Idaho.

Mr. Couch was at it again in 2010, racing another lawn chair balloonist in a flight that went about 70 miles.