With Love, "Lawnchair Larry"
1949 - 1993
“So many people have dreams and they never follow through on them.”
- “Lawn Chair Larry” Walters
Larry Walters, known as "Lawnchair Larry"(Photo Source: Medium.com)
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Larry Walters always wanted to be a pilot. Being diagnosed with an astigmatism nearly stole his dream. That was further confirmed when he was not selected to serve as a pilot in the Vietnam war. He was instead assigned to be a cook. When he returned home after the war he couldn’t let go of his dream of flying. He realized that he was rather comfortable sitting in his Lawnchair while considering his dream of flight, and it lead him to devise a plan. His lawn chair could rise with the assistance of weather balloons! He would be able to fly after all. Larry did some estimations, calculations, and gathered supplies to prepare for his adventure. He planned for the right time and when the day came he took a ride into the desert with a small team, and filled his balloons with helium.
On July 2, 1982 Larry Walters soared into the clouds, attaining his dream of flying. His favorite Lawnchair shot straight up into the sky suspended from his cluster of weather balloons! Larry calculated, but didn’t have a keen understanding of how powerful the helium would be. He reached an unintended height of 16,000 feet! Before he knew it he was floating amid the clouds, at the altitude of passenger airplanes. Imagine his joy, excitement…and complete terror when he realized that his intentions to merely hover approximately 30 feet above the ground long enough take a gander at the scenery and enjoy a bit of lunch, quickly turned into an uncontrolled jettison into turbulent, controlled air space over Los Angeles Airport!
Lawnchair Larry’s adventure ended safely, though he almost dropped into the ocean and he did take out a few power lines on the way down. His design and brief 45 minute flight cost him a few days in jail, a fine and an appearance in court to explain his actions. Many who learned of his episode in the sky thought he was crazy, others thought he was a hero! His flight sparked the idea for a sport now known as Cluster Ballooning! You might also recognize the concept and imagery used in the movie Up!
Larry Walters' Lawnchair, prepared for flight. (Photo Source: Medium.com)
I’ve chosen Larry’s story as the focus of this year’s Valentines as one to represent spirit, determination, and conquering fear in pursuit of one’s dreams. Larry pointed out to those who questioned his sanity that had the Wright Brothers never attempted flight at Kitty Hawk, we wouldn’t have the advancement for humankind that is the Age of Flight. That has advanced to untold accomplishments in the fields of Science & Technology, let alone what we experience with the simple joys of travel and leisurely sports and adventure.
Thank you for being a dreamer, “Lawnchair Larry” Walters.
To read more about Larry’s adventure, and his life please see my sources and further information on Larry Walters in the links below: