Larry Walters: 'Lawnchair Larry's Balloon Flight Made Him Icarus Of 1982

By | July 1, 2020

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Lawnchair Larry on TV and in the air. Sources:;

Larry Walters, or "Lawnchair Larry," took to the sky in 1982, ascending to a an altitude of over three miles in a chair lifted by helium-filled balloons. He's remembered as an everyday Joe with a dream, who executed a Wile E. Coyote-style plan and succeeded. He's also remembered as a fool, whose strange stunt was extremely dangerous, as he was unable to control his altitude or direction, and might have been swept out to sea. This is the story or cautionary tale of Lawnchair Larry, a folk hero who might inspire us to follow our dreams, but who also reminds us to think things through and be careful what we wish for.

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A truck driver, Walters dreamed of flying, but his dreams of becoming an Air Force pilot never got off the ground. In fact, he joined the Air Force and fought in Vietnam because he wanted to fly the plane, but he was denied because of his poor eyesight. When he visited an Army-Navy surplus store, he saw helium balloons hanging from the ceiling, which awakened a new dream: flying using balloons. He did the research, took notes, but improperly calculated the amount of helium necessary to make the brief, low flight over the Mojave Desert that he planned.