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The man who flew a lawn chair over Los Angeles
In 1982, a Los Angeles truck driver named Larry Walters rigged 42 helium-filled weather balloons to a lawn chair, took a seat, and untethered the craft. He soared rapidly. At one point, the pilot of a passing airplane radioed that he saw a man in a lawn chair at 16,000 feet — 3 miles — who was holding a pistol in his hand. Shivering at high altitude, Walters used a pellet gun to shoot out balloons and return back to earth. On the way, his balloons draped over power lines, blacking out a neighborhood for 20 minutes. He was fined $1,500.
“It was something I had to do,” Walters told the L.A. Times. “I had this dream for 20 years, and if I hadn’t done it, I would have ended up in the funny farm.” (Here’s an old TV broadcast that includes video from the stunt.)
Tragically, Walters committed suicide years later in the Angeles National Forest. He was 44.
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