Saturday, October 8, 2016

Larry Walters' Balloon Flight

Have you heard of Larry Walters?  In one of the textbooks I use, the lesson on irregular past tense verbs had a story about a 33 year old truck driver in California who attached 45 helium filled weather balloons to an aluminum lawn chair and attempted to fly across the dessert to the mountains.  He took along some water, a CB radio, an altimeter, a camera, and a pellet gun. He had the chair tied down to the bumper of a car.  When his friend cut one of the ropes, the other snapped and Larry shot up into the sky, losing his glasses.  

The textbook said he went up at the rate of 300 meters a second until he was about 5 km above the ground.  My student and I wondered if that was a misprint because that is really fast. He drifted into the airspace of the Long Beach Airport instead of going across the desert.  He was very cold and dizzy, so he used the pellet gun to shoot some of the balloons causing him to float down to the ground.  He was immediately arrested and became famous for his adventure.  The FAA wanted to take away his pilot's license, but they couldn't because he didn't have one!  

My student didn't think the story was true, so we looked it up on the internet.  Wikipedia confirmed the story and gave us more details. My student thought it was just crazy and couldn't understand why anyone would try such a thing. 

While I, too, think it was crazy, I can kind of understand why someone would do such a thing. I wouldn't try it at this stage in my life, but when I was younger... I don't know, maybe I would have. I can certainly understand wanting to try something adventurous.  When I was younger I probably thought I would live forever and wouldn't have comprehended the danger.  

How about you?  Did you ever do or think of doing something crazy and adventurous without thinking about the consequences?


  1. Hi Pamela ,oh i hadnt heard of this either but it sure sounds interesting,lol i try to play it safe xx

  2. I remember hearing about this once before. Wow. That had to be a memorable experience. I am afraid I am tend to be more on the cautious side of life.