Larry Walters was a truck driver, but his lifelong dream was to fly. One day he got an idea that led him to the local Army-Navy surplus store. He bought a tank of helium and forty-five weather balloons — heave-duty spheres measuring more than four feet across when fully inflated.
Back in his yard, Larry used straps to attach the balloons to his lawn chair, anchored the chair to the bumper of his jeep, and inflated the balloons with helium. He packed sandwiches, drinks, and loaded a BB gun — figuring he’d pop a few balloons when it was time to return to earth.
Preparations complete, Larry Walters sat in his chair and cut the anchoring cord. His plan was to lazily float up a ways, and then lazily back down to terra firma. But, things didn’t quite work out that way.
When Larry cut the cord, he shot up as if fired from a cannon, and not a couple hundred feet. He climbed to eleven THOUSAND feet! Fourteen hours he floated, at a loss as to how to get down safely.
Eventually, Larry drifted into the approach corridor for Los Angeles International Airport. A Pan Am pilot radioed the tower about passing a guy in a lawn chair at eleven thousand feet… with a gun in his lap.
Wary, the Navy dispatched a rescue helicopter. Eventually they were able to hover over him and drop a rescue line with which they gradually hauled him back to earth.
As soon as Larry hit the ground, he was arrested. A television reporter asked Larry why he did it. He replied, “A man can’t just sit around.”