Saturday, July 5, 2008

LawnChair Larry lives on

You probably remember Lawnchair Larry, officially known as Larry Walters. He rose to fame (literally) in 1982 by attaching 45 helium-filled weather balloons to a lawn chair. He intended to rise a few feet above his home and hover there. Unfortunately, he miscalculated the lifting energy of the balloons, and shot up to a full 16,000 feet (3 miles) altitude, drifting into the approach airways to Los Angeles International Airport. A passing airliner, somewhat perturbed at this unorthodox method of passenger transportation, alerted the control tower. After much consternation among the authorities, a helicopter dropped him a line and towed him to a safe landing (where he succeeded in blacking out a large neighborhood by becoming entangled with the power lines).

Mr. Walters died some years ago, but his example obviously continues to inspire. Today an Oregon man, Kent Couch, flew from his home in Bend, Oregon, to Cambridge, Idaho, in similar fashion. It was his third attempt (and second successful one) at emulating Mr. Walters' feat.

I have to salute his sense of adventure, even while deploring his apparent lack of common sense. At least he took a parachute - in case!

I'm also intrigued to consider what the birds of the air must have thought about this strange addition to their normal morning routine. I imagine the air must have been thick with chirps, clucks and cackles of inquiry!

I suppose Mr. Couch is fortunate that none of them decided to peck at his balloons - or signify their disdain in another, typically avian fashion. As the old cowboy ballad reminds us:

In Mobile, in Mobile,
Them eagles they fly high in Mobile.
Man, them eagles fly so high
Then they drop it in your eye;
I guess it's lucky cows don't fly
In Mobile!



chris in SE TX said...

You may be surprised to learn that "cluster ballooning" has actually quite a following. See this link for more info:

They make it look almost normal....

Mike said...

To the blog owner;

Larry was not towed by a helicopter, that is incorrect. He was able to shoot a few ballons before dropping his pellet gun. Luckily enough balloon were popped and he descended to low enough to get caught in power lines, with his chair suspended 5 feet from the ground.

The internet is full of enough misinformation, please correct your story.

Also, Mr Walters passed away in 1993 of a self inflicted gun shot wound to his heart. Perhaps because all the true morons in the world kept misreporting his adventure. ;)

Keep up the good work!