As his neighbors stood around watching the action, Larry secured his lawn chair to the bumper of his Jeep, and one by one he filled the balloons with helium. Then he tied them to his lawn chair. Before liftoff, he provided himself with a two-way radio, a parachute, some jugs of water, a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and his BB gun to regulate his altitude by shooting out excess balloons.
When he was ready, he yelled, “Let’s go!” and his neighbors cut the ropes. But he didn’t slowly rise just 200 feet, his calculations were way off. He shot straight up so fast that he lost his glasses, climbing over 1,000 feet per minute. At one point he climbed to over 15,000 feet! For several hours he drifted in the cold air over the Pacific, near the landing pattern of the LAX airport. Eventually, a pilot of a DC-10 reported that he had passed a man in a lawn chair with a gun, and the control tower told him to report in immediately upon landing. They thought the pilot may have been drinking.
Eventually airport officials sent up helicopters to rescue him. On the ground, Larry found himself surrounded by TV crews, the police, and fire and rescue squads. It was a major event. One of the reporters asked, “What in the world made you do this?” Larry thought about it for a moment and said, “A man can’t just sit around.” Larry Walters is right, you can’t just sit around, but his casual calculations for his historic flight nearly got him killed. I've got to hand it to him though, that was a brave endeavor. Maybe he should call NASA to see if they have any openings.