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Larry the Lawn Chair Pilot
This is the most recent version of this true urban legend that I have found.
The Airborne Lawn Chair
A truck driver that had always wanted to learn to fly, but who's eyesight was too bad, came up with an alternative. A garage inventor, Larry designed an odd invention that he was certain would take him to the sky and get him in the record books.
One Saturday morning his neighbors saw him anchoring an aluminum lawn chair to the ground in his yard. They said he disappeared into his garage and returned with helium filled weather balloons. Probably 40 or 50 of them. Neighbors watched as he and his friends tied plastic milk jugs and the weather balloons to the chair.
Upon completion, Larry belted himself into the contraption and cut the moorings that held the chair to the ground.
" I'm going to make history!" they heard him call down to them as he immediately soared into the sky. " I've got my cell phone and a parachute, just in case anything goes wrong." He finished as he floated away.
His chair shot into the air a few thousand feet at a dizzying speed. Larry was terrified. He leaned over and vomited over the side of the chair and in the process lost his eyeglasses. Blurry eyed, and panicked he brought out his BB gun and tried to shoot out a few of the balloons hoping to slow his ascent. As predicted, shooting out the balloons did cause the chair to loose altitude. The winds were stronger then Larry had figured and as they whipped and tossed the chair around, he lost his grip on the BB gun. He fumbled with his cell phone , but dropped that too. He was still over 100 feet in the air-too far to jump. He tried waving and yelling to people below as he had no other way to call for help.
A gust of wind came and blew him farther and farther off course. Soon he was outside of town, in open country. No houses, not even traffic signs on the roads. He was worried about that, but not as much as he was about the high-voltage power lines that he was quickly approaching.
Frantically, in a last-ditch effort , Larry tried to untie some of the balloons. However they were all secured tightly to the chair. He had not thought of packing a knife . A few seconds passed , and the driver of a passing car witnessed the flying lawn chair , propelled by the winds, drift swiftly toward the power lines beside the highway. He saw the man in the chair lean back and extend out his legs, in what he assumed was an attempt to steer the chair away from the wires. But the pilot could not control the chair. Suddenly there was the sound of crackling electricity, followed by the roar of flames as the helium balloons collided with the wires and exploded. In his rear view mirror, the driver could see the burning lawn chair crash to the ground.
THE TRUTH: An event like this actually occurred on July 2, 1982 in San Pedro California. It was the life-long dream of truck driver Larry Walters to learn to fly, but his poor eyesight kept him grounded. However, he has recently come up with a unique alternative. Being a self-proclaimed inventor and all around tinkerer, he has built a flying machine in his garage. Larry is certain that if his flying machine is successful, it will most certainly land him in the record books.
Early Saturday morning neighbors reported seeing him anchoring a lawn chair to the ground in his yard. They then watched as he inflated and attached 40 or 50 large weather balloons to the lawn chair. He then strapped a large backpack and BB gun to the chair, belted himself in and cut the moorings that anchored the chair to the ground.
His flight was more then successful as the balloon-ship quickly soared into the sky taking him by surprise. So much so that he lost his eye glasses right away. Flying much higher then he had anticipated, TWA and Delta airplane pilots reported seeing the hand-made contraption at nearly 15,000 feet. The temperatures and winds at such altitudes were more then Larry had planed on. After nearly 45 minuets in the sky, and his extremities becoming numb from the cold, Larry began popping the weather balloons with the BB gun in order to lower the flying machine back to the ground safely. The entire time he kept up communications with people on the ground and even uttered a may-day with his portable CB radio, some even recorded his communications.
The winds changed direction and ended taking Larry directly over LAX airport, off course. The cords of the flying machine became caught in power lines which left him dangling about five feet above the ground. Larry crawled out of his flying machine safely and was arrested by the LAPD . The Federal Aviation Administration was not amused. Larry was originally fined over $4000 but was able to have his fines reduced to less then $2000.
To find out more about Larry the Lawn chair Pilot go to www.markberry.com. This is a webpage dedicated to Larry Walters and his family.
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