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'Lawnchair' Larry Walters
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Aviator
    (April 19, 1949-October 6, 1993)
    Raised in North Hollywood, CA
    Attached 45 (some reports state 42) helium-filled weather balloons to a patio lawnchair (July 2, 1982)
    Launched from his girlfriend's house in San Pedro, CA
    Sailed up to 16,000 feet in the air for two hours
    Flew about 10 miles, landing (unhurt) in power lines of a residence near Long Beach, CA Airport
    Dubbed the craft 'Inspiration I'
    Provisions taken:
    Parachute (in case of emergency)
    Pellet gun (to shoot balloons for descent)
    Portable CB radio (to communicate with half dozen friends acting as ground crew)
    35 plastic gallon milk jugs filled with water (for ballast)
    Altimeter
    Camera
    Sandwiches and soda
    Though he took a camera, he stated: 'I was so amazed by the view I didn't even take one picture.'
    Two airline pilots saw him flying and one ratted him out to the FAA.
    Power had to be cut for about a half hour in some parts of Long Beach to get him untangled from his landing site.
    The FAA threatened him with several charges and $4,000 in fines, reducing it to $1,500 on a single charge of 'failing to maintain two-way radio contact with the airport.'
    When asked by a reporter after the flight why he did it, he stated, 'A man can't just sit around' (isn't that EXACTLY what he did?).
    While his flight holds the altitude record for clustered balloons it goes unrecognized because it was unlicensed and unsanctioned.
    He became despondent, hiked into the Angeles National Forest and committed suicide by shooting himself in the heart at age 44.
    He was a Vietnam War veteran.
    He wanted to become a pilot in the United States Air Force but wasn't able due to poor eyesight.
    It was very cold at 16,000 feet and the thin air made him dizzy.
    He hit the lecture circuit as a motivational speaker, though he didn't make much money and interest faded quickly.
    He did volunteer work for the United States Forest Service at the San Gabriel Mountains.

Credit: Scar Tactics


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