Whenever people ask about my favorite news story, I always tell them about the 1982 story of Larry Richard Walters, nicknamed Lawn Chair Pilot. I was reminded of Lawn Chair Pilot’s story by a Facebook post from WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami owned by Sunbeam, about a British man who attached some 100 helium […]
I was reminded of Lawn Chair Pilot’s story by a Facebook post from WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami owned by Sunbeam, about a British man who attached some 100 helium balloons to his chair the other day and flew up to more than 8,000 feet for 15 miles over Africa.
He said, in the typical British under-stated kind of way, “It was a fairly indescribable feeling, wafting across Africa on a cheap camping chair dangling from a load of balloons.”
But 35 years ago, Larry, the Lawn Chair Pilot, was the first guy to use helium balloons tied to an ordinary patio chair to fly. His flight got him fined and made him famous: He became a spokesman for Timex watches.
Bringing beer always cracked me up. But that’s what you typically do in a lawn chair.
As friends began to untie the tethers that kept his contraption tied to his Jeep, the chair suddenly and rapidly rose to more than 16,000 feet, crossing the approach path to a nearby airport, where two airliners spotted him.
Can’t you just imagine the airline pilots reporting him to the tower? I’d love to know how that went.
After 45 minutes, Walters was able to shoot out a few balloons with his gun, which he then accidently dropped overboard. His chair and balloons descended into some power lines and he climbed down, safe and sound.
His story made the news, here’s a clip of it from an NBC News story.
(Scroll in to about the 40-second mark.)
And Walter’s stunt caught the attention of David Letterman who had him as a guest on his show.
(Scroll in to about the 10 minute, 40 second mark.)
Sadly, Walters committed suicide in 1993.