The late, great Larry Walters (Better known as “Lawn Chair Larry”), sadly passed away 6th October 1993. Born 19th April 1949 he is best remembered as the American truck driver who took flight on July 2, 1982, in a homemade airship Dubbed Inspiration I, which consisted of an ordinary patio chair with 45 helium-filled weather balloons attached to it.
Walters had always dreamed of flying, but was unable to become a pilot in the United States Air Force because of his poor eyesight. Walters had first thought of using weather balloons to fly at age 13 and 14, after seeing them hanging from the ceiling of a military surplus store. Twenty years later he decided to do so. His intention was to attach a few helium-filled weather balloons to his lawnchair, cut the anchor, and then float above his backyard at a height of about 30 feet (9.1 m) for several hours. In order to get back down he planned to use a pellet gun to burst balloons and float gently to the ground. So In mid-1982, Walters and his girlfriend, Carol Van Deusen, purchased 45 eight-foot weather balloons and obtained helium tanks from California Toy Time Balloons, by using a forged requisition from his employer, FilmFair Studios, and saying the balloons were for a television commercial. Walters attached the balloons to his lawn chair, filled them with helium, put on a parachute, and strapped himself into the chair in the backyard He took his pellet gun, a CB radio, sandwiches, cold beer, and a camera.
However When his friends cut the cord that tied his lawn chair to his Jeep, Walters suddenly shot up to an altitude of over 15,000 feet. Atfirst, he did not dare shoot any balloons, fearing that he might unbalance the load and fall out. So he slowly drifted from his point of origin in San Pedro, California, over Long Beach crossing the primary approach corridor into controlled airspace near Los Angeles International Airport, causing absolute chaos. After 45 minutes in the sky, he plucked up enough courage to shoot several balloons, unfortunately he then accidentally dropped his pellet gun overboard. He descended slowly, until the balloons’ dangling cables got caught in a power line, causing a 20-minute blackout in a Long Beach neighborhood. When Walters had descended enough to be able to climb to the ground, He was immediately arrested by waiting members of the Long Beach Police Department;
When asked by a reporter why he had done it, Walters replied, “A man can’t just sit around.” Regional safety inspector Neal Savoy was reported to have said, “We know he broke some part of the Federal Aviation Act, and as soon as we decide which part it is, some type of charge will be filed. If he had a pilot’s license, we’d suspend that. But he doesn’t.” Walters received the top prize from the Bonehead Club of Dallas for his adventure, and also gets an honourable mention on the Darwin Awards website His flight was also widely reported in many newspapers.