Lawn Chair Man
Larry Walters; Soared to Fame on a Lawn Chair Back in 1982, Larry Walters achieved fame by piloting a lawn chair attached to helium balloons 16,000 feet above Long Beach. Incidentally, his Lawn chair was christened "Inspiration I".
What happened was Larry joined 42 weather grade balloons to an aluminum lawn chair. He then filled the balloons by pumping in helium. Two assistants then launched his chair by untying the Guy ropes. Larry prepared for his flight by packing a bottle of soda, a parachute and a portable CB radio to alert air traffic to his presence. He took a camera but later admitted, that he was so paralyzed by the view I didn't take any pictures.
As a truck driver, Larry had no pilot or balloon training, so it was all a big adventure when the chair soared three miles high to 16,000 feet. Unfortunately, or on reflection, fortunately he was in an air traffic lane and at least two airline pilots spotted him and contacted the Federal Aviation Administration.
Once the shock and the novelty wore off, Larry started to get cold. Fortunately he had a plan, this was to burst the balloons with his trusty pellet gun and thus descend gracefully back to earth. Unfortunately he had no control on the decent and the balloons draped over power lines, blacking out a Long Beach neighborhood.
The adventure cost Larry Walters a $1,500 fine from the FAA. However he earned the top prize from the Bonehead Club of Dallas. Larry also claimed the altitude record for gas-filled clustered balloons. In due course Larry was invited to appear on "The Tonight Show" and was flown to New York to be on "Late Night With David Letterman," which he later described as "the most fun I've ever had."
"I didn't think that by fulfilling my dream that I would create such a stir," he later told The Times, "and make people laugh." Larry gave up his truck-driving job and went on the lecture circuit, remaining in demand at motivational seminars. But he said he never made much money from his innovative flight and was glad to keep his simple lifestyle. He gave his the aluminum lawn chair to children after he landed, but he later regretting giving away his pride and joy.
The key to Larry's suicide in 1993 may have been his Army service in Vietnam, Walters never married and had no children. He is survived by his mother and two sisters.
There have been numerous urban myths surrounding 'Lawn Chair Man'.
Footnote: The above account is based on his Obituary in 1993.
[ Author Unknown -- from 'Will and Guy' (firstname.lastname@example.org) ]
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