I was too young to remember the historical balloon flight of Larry Walters back in 1982, so when my friend Mark told me this story, I was amazed.
Larry Walters, a truck driver, wanted to fly. He tied 40 weather balloons to a lawn chair with the intention of floating around 100 feet above the ground. However, when he cut his tether, he unexpectedly flew to 16,000 feet and into Long Beach airspace. He eventually used his BB gun to shoot out some balloons and land. I don’t know how he managed to do this at 16,000 feet without soiling himself.
When asked why he did this, Walters said “A man can’t just sit around.”
That’s just fantastic. This is someone who is awesome at life. But then the sad part: A little over a decade later, Walters went into Angeles National Forest and shot himself. It must have been hard to live up to the extraordinary expectations set by that first feat.
“Lawn Chair Pilot” — Check-Six