Larry Walters can be an inspiration to anyone who has ever struggled with the dilemma of whether or not to follow their dreams.
This is a man who did something that was at the same time foolish, brave, and yes, INSPIRATIONAL if you know how to look at it.
Long live the Legend of Lawn Chair Larry!
Let’s first introduce ourselves to Larry Walters.
Who was he?
Larry Walters was a Vietnam Veteran (Army), California truck driver, and a guy who always wondered what it would be like to soar through the air by balloon.
Most people who get this urge go the route of the hot air balloon, but not Larry.
In 1982, at the age of 33 years, Larry decided to get a hold of surplus weather balloons and tie several to his lawn chair.
He tethered the lawn chair to the ground and connected everything up.
His friends assisted him and they were called his ground crew.
He even named his “craft” the Inspiration I.
He donned a life jacket and a pellet gun, some sunglasses, a large bottle of soda, a parachute and a portable CB radio to alert air traffic to his presence, and away he went.
(He took a camera too but forgot to take pictures!)
Larry initially thought that he would just go up a bit and come down, but instead he shot right up to 16000 feet, which is about 3.03 miles up.
So, he floated right into the flight path of LAX airport.
There he was, 16000 feet up, cold, scared, and a jet pilot saw him close enough to radio the tower, “You’re not going to believe this, but I just passed a guy at 16000 feet in a lawn chair holding a gun.”
The alerts went off and they saw Larry on radar.
They sent a helicopter to investigate and guide Larry home.
There are details that I have read that may or may not be true.
I have read that Larry drifted out over the Pacific and that the helicopter had to lower a line and tow Larry back to Long Beach.
Other reports said that Larry shot out a few balloons before he accidentally dropped his gun, and that this had slowly started his decent, until he ended up in some power lines a few feet off the ground. He was able to climb down unharmed but caused a 20 minute area power blackout.
He was eventually charged with violating aspects of the FAA Act.
Later he became a motivational speaker, was a guest on various talk shows including The Tonight Show and Letterman, and even did a print ad for Timex watches, with the tag line, “A Man Can’t Just Sit Around.”
Sadly, later in life, he got depressed due to several factors and committed suicide.
What a tragic shame and ending for a man who embodied so much of the go getter spirit.
So what can we all learn from Larry Walters?
What can we learn from Lawn Chair Larry?
Isn’t it obvious?
Follow your dreams no matter how crazy they seem!
Lawn Chair Larry didn’t go to his grave wondering if he should have done it.
He did it!
He got to experience what he set out to do, no matter the cost.
It cost him for sure.
He got in trouble with the law.
It was dangerous.
He could have gotten killed or maybe put air travelers at risk, but that wasn’t his intention.
Was his plan poorly thought out and a bit reckless?
But… he lived it!
That’s more than most of us can say.
They say that the best inventions are in the graveyards, since most people take their best ideas and wanted experiences to the grave with them, never actually trying any of it.
Don’t be like most people, be like Lawn Chair Larry!
Don’t be so cautious that you forget to do things that leave a mark on this Earth.
Leave your comfort zone!
Any time, my friends, that I made any breakthrough, it came after leaving that old comfort zone in the rear view…
To quote Lawn Chair Larry, “A man can’t just sit around.”
You can read the full story here.