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Amateur lawn chair balloonist gets stuck in tree

June 25, 2013 at 2:32 PM

BATTLE GROUND, Wash., June 25 (UPI) -- A Washington state man who flew at a height of 15,000 feet in his balloon-powered lawn chair said he wasn't frightened until getting stuck 40 feet up in a tree.

Joe Barbera, who built his balloon-and-chair craft in his garage and launched at 7:30 a.m. Saturday north of Battle Ground, said he remained in radio contact with his support team during his adventure, but the team lost track of his flight on an online tracking system, The (Vancouver, Wash.) Columbian reported Tuesday.

Barbera told his team he was stuck about 40 feet up in a tree.

"I couldn't have asked for a better tree," Barbera said.

"The craft was suspended upright in an amazingly stable posture," he said. However, the height was "too far to jump and too far to fall."

Barbera said the craft dropped suddenly a minuscule distance but it was enough to frighten him for the first time during the adventure.

"Things were settling, and it dropped an inch," he said.

A Skamania County sheriff's deputy and the Volcano Rescue Team responded to the scene to scale the tree and bring Barbera back to the ground.

The team located Barbera around 2 p.m. and were able to rig up a rope system and bring the balloonist back to earth around 3:30 p.m.

Barbera said he would like to repeat the stunt, but he does not believe he will.

"I would do it again in a minute," he said. "And I would do it better.

"Will I? Highly unlikely. I can't imagine mustering that much manpower again," Barbera said.

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