Stranger than fiction: Flying lawn chair

Heres a story, that actually did happen.

On July 2nd 1982, Larry Walters, a truck driver from North Hollywood, California, fulfilled a life-long dream. While visiting some friends in San Pedro, Ca., he attached 45 weather balloons and several gallon jugs of water to a lawn chair, tethered it to the ground, and filled the balloons with helium. Then, equipped with a parachute, a large bottle of soda, a hand-held citizens band radio, and an air pistol, he had his friends cut the tethers.

Larrys lawn chair, the Inspiration I, immediately and unexpectedly shot up to an elevation of 16,000 feet, and then began drifting east, eventually over the Long Beach airport, where he was spotted by two airliner pilots, who reported to the tower a guy in a lawn chair drifting by.

Larry attempted to land by shooting out some of the balloons with his air pistol, but lost it overboard before he could affect a rapid decent. He then broadcast a mayday on his radio, which was received by a CB club in Orange County.

Larry did manage to decend eventually. His balloons and cable became entangled in some power lines, knocking out power in a Long Beach neighborhood for 20 minutes, but he was uninjured, and his chair was left dangling a few feet above the ground.

The Long Beach Police did not arrest him, nor did they file any charges, but the Federal Aviation Administration was determined to bring him up on =something=. He eventually paid $1,500 in fines. Naturally, he made the talk show circuit, and quit his job to go on the lecture circuit, too. He also earned first prize from the Bonehead Club of Dallas, Texas, and to this day receives honorable mention on many Darwin Awards lists.

And of course, urban legends have a habit of growing like any other kind: Later versions of this tale have him drifting into the main approach corridor of Los Angeles International Airport, and being rescued mid-air by a helicopter, out over the Pacific Ocean …

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