National Geographic Illustrator Excited after hearing about the “Discovery” Of “Lawn Chair Man” Immediately Set To Work On This Drawing. Here, primitive, lawn chair man will use rocks to knock down balloons when ready to descend.
Truck Driver Takes to Skies in Lawn Chair
From The New York Times 3 July 1982
LONG BEACH, Calif, July 2 (AP) A truck driver with 45 weather balloons rigged to a lawn chair took a 45-minute ride aloft to 16,000 feet today before he got cold, shot some balloons out and crashed into a power line, the police said.
“I know it sounds strange, but it’s true,” Lieut. Rod Mickelson said after he stopped laughing. “The guy just filled up the balloons with helium, strapped on a parachute, grabbed a BB gun and took off.”
The man was identified as Larry Walters, 33 years old, of North Hollywood. He was not injured.
The Federal Aviation Administration was not amused.
Lawn Chair Man Spotted by Airline Pilots
A regional safety inspector, Neal Savoy, said the flying lawn chair was spotted by Trans World Airlines and Delta Airlines jetliner pilots at 16,000 feet above sea level.
“We know he broke some part of the Federal Aviation Act, and as soon as we decide which part it is, some type of charge will be filed,” Mr. Savoy said. “If he had a pilot’s license, we’d suspend that. But he doesn’t.”
The police said Mr. Walters went to a friend’s house in San Pedro Thursday night, inflated 45 six-foot weather balloons and attached them to an aluminum lawn chair tethered to the ground.
This morning, with half a dozen friends holding the tethers, he donned a parachute, strapped himself into the chair and had his friends let him up slowly.
Minutes later, he was calling for help over his citizens band radio.
“This guy broke into our channel with a mayday,” said Doug Dixon, a member of an Orange County citizens band radio club. “He said he had shot up like an elevator to 16,000 feet and was getting numb before he started shooting out some of the balloons.”
Mr. Walters then lost his pistol overboard, and the chair drifted downward, controlled only by the gallon jugs of water attached to the sides as ballast.
The ropes became entangled in a power line, briefly blacking out a small area in Long Beach. The chair dangled five feet above the ground, and Mr. Walters was able to get down safely.
“Since I was 13 years old, I’ve dreamed of going up into the clear blue sky in a weather balloon,” he said. “By the grace of God, I fulfilled my dream. But I wouldn’t do this again for anything.”
Lawn-Chair Man Faces $4,000 in Fines
From The New York Times 19 December 1982
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 18 (UPI) Larry Walters, the lawn-chair pilot who catapulted to fame when balloons lifted his contraption 16,000 feet into the sky, faces $4,000 in fines for violations cited by the Federal Aviation Administration.
“If the F.A.A. was around when the Wright Brothers were testing their aircraft, they would never have been able to make their first flight at Kitty Hawk,” said Mr. Walters, who plans to challenge the fines.
Mr. Walters, a 33-year old truck driver from North Hollywood, surprised himself and several airline pilots July 2 with his aluminum lawn chair tied to 42 weather balloons. He had to pop some with a pellet gun to land.
The F.A.A. has cited him for four violations of the Federal Aviation Act, including operating a “civil aircraft for which there is not currently in effect an airworthiness certificate” and operating an aircraft within an airport traffic area “without establishing and maintaining two-way communications with the control tower.”