GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- An Oregon man who made headlines with his numerous flights in a lawn chair suspended from party balloons said Tuesday that between the high price of helium and a fine from the Federal Aviation Administration, his flying days might be done – at least in the U.S.

Bend gas station owner and craft beer seller Kent Couch said helium costs five times what it did when he made his first flight in 2006.

And the FAA fined him $4,500 in February for his July 14, 2012, tandem flight with Iraqi adventurer Fareed Lafta. The fine was reported Monday by The Bend Bulletin.

"We need them," Couch said of the agency. "But they certainly dampened my spirit of flying."

The FAA says Couch and Lafta flew without pilot's licenses, failed to register the lawn chairs as an aircraft, failed to have the contraption certified as airworthy, and were careless and reckless when the balloon took off without them after they landed in a farm field.

Couch says the FAA agreed to reduce the fine from $5,500 to $4,500 after he talked to its lawyer. He said he paid the fine by certified check in February or March with money he received from a sponsor.

But FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said in an email that the agency has no record of the payment. The FAA levied a similar fine against Lafta, but he is out of the country and has not responded, Cory said.

"I think they are just making me a scapegoat or an example, to keep other people from doing it," said Couch.

Apparently it didn't work.

A La Center, Wash., man launched his own lawn chair balloon last month to celebrate his 60th birthday. He managed to fly 24 miles before getting stuck in a tree, far short of his goal of more than 250 miles.

Couch said the FAA interviewed him after some of his previous flights, but this is the first time it levied a fine.

In his 2006 flight, Couch traveled 99 miles before the balloons started popping and he had to bail out. In 2007, he flew 193 miles before running low on helium and landing in the sagebrush of Eastern Oregon.

In 2008, he floated at 35 mph across the high desert and landed in a pasture in the farming community of Cambridge, Idaho, after pulling out his trusty BB rifle and shooting enough balloons to come to earth. The lawn chair from that flight is in a museum.

He was at it again in 2010 when he raced another law chair balloonist on a flight that went about 70 miles.

Couch theorized the fine came because he had a co-pilot on the 2012 flight, but Cory said that was not the case.

Still up in the air is whether Couch and Lafta go through with a flight in Iraq. Couch and his wife, Susan, went to Dubai in 2011 in hopes of making the flight, but it never got off the ground. Couch says Lafta has put it on hold.

"I'll never regret doing those flights, based just on the great sense of being able to fly through the air like a cloud," Couch said.

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  • FILE- This July 5, 2008 file photo shows Kent Couch riding a lawn chair rigged with giant party ballons after taking off from his gas tation in Bend, Ore. Couch is planning to fly again July 14, 2012, in a tandem rig with Iraqi adventurer Fareed Lafta on a flight they hope will take them some 400 miles. It is a warm-up for a flight the two men are planning for this fall in Iraq. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard, File)

  • FILE- This July 5, 2008, file photo shows Kent Couch lifting off from his gas station in Bend, Ore., riding a lawn chair rigged with more than 150 giant party balloons for a flight that ended 235 miles away in an Idaho farm field. Couch plans to fly again July 14, this time with Iraqi adventurer Fareed Lafta in a tandem rig they hope will go 400 miles to Montana. It is a warm-up for a flight planned for this fall in Iraq. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard, File)

  • FILE - This July 5, 2008 file photo shows Kent Couch lifting off from his gas station in Bend, Ore., riding a lawn chair rigged with more than 150 giant party balloons for a flight that ended 235 miles away in an Idaho farm field. Oregon's "lawn-chair balloonist" has put off his flight in Iraq until next year. Couch had planned another balloon flight Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 in Baghdad along with Iraqi daredevil Fareed Lafta. But a statement Monday from spokesman Mark Knowles says the two have delayed the flight until March to accommodate a number of groups that want to use it to raise awareness of the plight of Iraqi orphans. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard, File)

  • FILE- This July 5, 2008, file phot,o shows Kent Couch riding a lawn chair tied to more than 150 giant party balloons after taking off from his gas staition in Bend, Ore. Couch is planning to fly again July 14, this time in a tandem rig with Iraqi adventurer Fareed Lafta. The flight is a warm-up for a planned tandem flight this fall over Iraq. (AP Photo by Jeff Barnard, File)

  • Iraqi adventurer Fareed Lafta, right, and Bend, Ore., gas station owner Kent Couch lift off Saturday, July 14, 2012, from Couch's gas station in Bend, Ore., as they attempt to fly some 360 miles to Montana. The flight is a warm-up for a future flight planned in Iraq. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

  • FILE - In this July 5, 2008 file photo, Kent Couch describes the joy of his childhood fantasy of being able to fly by grabbing clusters of helium balloons prior to taking flight, in Bend, Ore. In 2008, Kent Couch made headlines by floating from Oregon to Idaho on a lawn chair hoisted into the clouds by party balloons. He's going to fly again, this time with a buddy sitting on a second lawn chair at his side. They are planning to take off July 14, 2012 from the parking lot of Couch's gas station and convenience store in Bend, Ore., the way he did in 2008 when he floated 235 miles to an Idaho farm field. Riding on a lawn chair attached to Couch's will be Fareed Lafta, an Iraqi adventurer and skydiver. Couch says he and Lafta plan to travel farther than on Couch's last trip going all the way to southwestern Montana, about 360 miles. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard, File)

  • Iraqi adventurer Fareed Lafta, right, and Bend, Ore., gas station owner Kent Couch lift off Saturday, July 14, 2012, from Couch's gas station in Bend, Ore., as they attempt to fly some 360 miles to Montana. The flight is a warm-up for a future flight planned in Iraq. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

  • Oregon gas station owner Kent Couch and Iraqi adventurer Fareed Lafta lift off Saturday, July 14, 2012, from Couch's gas station in Bend, Ore., as they attempt to fly some 360 miles to Montana. The flight is a warm-up for a future flight planned in Iraq. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

  • Volunteers assemble some of the 350 balloons tied to a tandem lawn chair rig that lifted off from a gas station carrying lawn chair balloonist Kent Couch and Iraqi adventurer Fareed Lafta, Saturday, July 14, 2012 in Bend, Ore.. The two men hoped to fly across Oregon, Idaho and into Montana. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

  • Iraqi adventurer Fareed Lafta watches with delight as party balloons are flated with helium to carry him aloft in a tandem lawn chair rig with gas station owner Kent Couch, Saturday, July 14, 2012 in Bend, Ore.. The two men hoped to fly across Oregon, Idaho and into Montana. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

  • Lawn chair balloonist Kent Couch leans in for a kiss from a grandson before taking flight from his gas station with Iraqi adventurer Fareed Lafta, Saturday, July 14, 2012 in Bend, Ore.. The two men hoped to fly across Oregon, Idaho and into Montana. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

  • FILE - This July 14, 2012 file photo shows gas station owner Kent Couch, right, conferring with Iraqi adventurer Fareed Lafta before taking off from Bend, Ore., in tandem lawn chairs suspended from helium-filled party balloons. The men said Tuesday after hitting thunderstorms about about 14,000 feet, they considered bailing out, but decided to land, coming down safely in a hay field about 40 miles from their starting point. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard, File)

  • FILE - This July 14, 2012 file photo shows Oregon gas station owner Kent Couch and Iraqi adventurer Fareed Lafta lifting off from Couch's gas station in Bend, Ore., in an attempt to fly in tandem lawn chairs to Montana. The duo ran into thunderstorms that forced them to abort the flight. On Tuesday, they said they considered bailing out from 14,000 feet, but decided to ride it out and land. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard, File)

  • This July 5, 2008 file photo shows Kent Couch riding a lawn chair tied to more than 150 giant party balloons after taking off from his gas station in Bend, Ore. Couch now says with the high price of helium and a recent $4,500 fine from the Federal Aviation Administration, his days of flying free as a cloud in the sky may be done, ast least in the U.S. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)