Monday, July 2, 2012

This Day in History July 2, 1982

I have to admit I don't remember this one, but it certainly is intriguing.  It was on this date in 1982 that Lawrence Richard Walters ("Lawn Chair Larry" or "Lawn Chair Pilot") took flight in his homemade "airship."   He had always wanted to be a pilot, but his poor eyesight kept him from realizing his dream. He was but a simple truck driver, but he decided to fulfill his dream anyway.

He attached 40 weather balloons (that had been filled with helium) to his lawn chair.  He planned to fly over Long Beach and the Mojave Desert. He had planned to use a pellet gun so he would slowly lose altitude, but it did not quite work that way.  He soared high very quickly, and he spent about two hours at 16,000 feet.  When he decided to descend, he did use his CB radio to contact the tower at the Long Beach airport, and they were amazed at the transmission they were receiving!  He did use his pellet gun, and he ended up landing in a residential neighborhood in Long Beach.

He was arrested and fined $4000 (which was later reduced to $1500).  He gave his lawn chair to a local boy (and later wished he had given it to the Smithsonian).  Although he had some notoriety as a result of this, the end of his life is extremely sad.  He went to his favorite spot on October 6, 1993, (Angeles National Forest) and shot himself in the heart.  It is a suicide that truly does not make sense.

I guess this just shows that realizing dreams and gaining notoriety does not necessarily make one happy.  The only reasons I can find listed are a loss of his girlfriend and failure to find steady work.  How sad.

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  1. Sad story. Do you know if this guy was the inspiration (at least partially) for the movie "Danny Deck Chair"?

  2. This was a funny, happy and sad story all in one! He was precious in God's eyes, but he couldn't see how precious he was through the world's eyes. His loss is the world's loss.

    God bless!

  3. Thanks for following me! I'm a new linky follower


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