Launch of the Larry garden chair | SOFREP

You might not know who Larry Walters was, but once in his life he fulfilled one of the two dreams of his life: to be a pilot in the United States Air Force or to fly with seated weather balloons. on his garden chair. Guess which one he was able to accomplish?

The dream

Larry Walter wanted to join the US Air Force, so he tried. However, his appalling eyesight made him unqualified as the Air Force required uncorrected 20/20 vision to fly airplanes. What else to do but build your own flying machine. For Larry, maybe it’s flying or staying on the ground forever.

Inspiration I

The Los Angeles truck driver had an idea when he was just 13 years old: he would build and drive his machine and call it Inspiration I. What inspired him were the weather balloons hanging from the ceiling from a local military surplus store. For twenty years, the idea slept somewhere in the occipito-temporal sensory regions of her brain until the rejection of the Air Force woke her up.

Larry garden chair.

In July 1982, Limitless Larry spared his time and began to work out his plan. He attached 42 helium-filled weather balloons to his trusty Sears lawn chair. He also brought his pellet gun with him so he could shoot some of his balloons to lower his altitude later. According to, “Walters was equipped with an altimeter, a parachute, a life jacket (in case of” landing on the water “), a 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola, a sandwich and a Citizen’s Band (CB) walkie talkie … and picked up a camera, but would later admit to interviewers: “I was so amazed at the sight that I didn’t even take a single photo.” . “

Larry’s trusted garden chair. Photo of

He was planning to go to the Southern California desert and the Rocky Mountains. Everything was ready, and he was ready to be the Carl Fredricksen of the movie “At the top!

Oh oh !

Things didn’t go according to his plan, as Larry found himself climbing at 1,000 feet per minute until he reached a massive elevation of 16,000 feet, where you need oxygen. He lost his glasses. So Larry and his lawn chair were right there, flying aimlessly, afraid to pop one of his balloons lest it bring him back to Earth as fast as he left it. It drifted from its take-off point in San Pedro and ended up over Long Beach Airport, which was a restricted area. Larry used his CB to radio communication with the Associated Radio Emergency Communications Team (REACT) about his situation. Understandably, the REACT team were taken aback when they heard what was going on, so He asked:

REACT (a CB radio surveillance organization): What color is the balloon?

Larry: The balloons are beige in color. I am in a bright blue sky that would be very visible. On.

REACT: [Balloon] Cut?

Larry: Size about, uh, seven feet in diameter each. And I probably have about 35 left. Sure.

REACT: You say you have a group of 35 balloons ??

Larry: These are 35 weather balloons. Not a single balloon, sir. These are 35 weather balloons.

REACT: Roger, wait for this frequency.

Larry and his lounge chair after his feat. Photo of

He started popping some of his balloons with the pellet gun, but then dropped it. Larry tried to control his descent by throwing in the gallon jugs of water he strapped to his lawn chair. Luckily, Larry’s descent brought him straight over power lines and certain death from electrocution, then miraculously the power line snapped and Larry landed safely. Of course, he was immediately arrested by Long Beach Police. He ended up paying the FAA a fine of $ 1,500 and the cost of repairing the power line.

“By the grace of God, I made my dream come true. But I wouldn’t do it again for the world.

When asked why he did it, Larry replied, “A man cannot sit still. Unless you’re sitting on a lounge chair 16,000 feet away, I guess?

The garden chair used by Larry is on display in the annex of the Smithsonian’s Air Space Museum at Dulles Airport in Virginia.

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