L.A. NOW

Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Case of boy trapped in balloon aircraft recalls man who flew around L.A. in lawn chair

Balloon The terrifying case of a 6-year-old boy trapped in a hot-air balloon flying over Colorado today recalls the case of Larry Walters, who in 1982 made worldwide headlines by piloting a lawn chair attached to helium balloons 16,000 feet above Long Beach.

"It was something I had to do," Walters told The Times after his flight from San Pedro to Long Beach on July 2, 1982. "I had this dream for 20 years, and if I hadn't done it, I would have ended up in the funny farm."

According to Times reports, Walters rigged 42 weather balloons to an aluminum lawn chair, pumped them full of helium and had two friends un-tether the craft, which he had dubbed "Inspiration I." 

He took along a large bottle of soda, a parachute and a portable CB radio to alert air traffic to his presence. He also took a camera but later admitted, "I was so amazed by the view I didn't even take one picture."

Walters, a North Hollywood truck driver with no pilot or balloon training, spent about two hours aloft and soared up to 16,000 feet -- three miles -- startling at least two airline pilots and causing one to radio the Federal Aviation Administration. Shivering in the high altitude, he used a pellet gun to pop balloons to come back to Earth. On the way down, his balloons draped over power lines, blacking out a Long Beach neighborhood for 20 minutes.

The stunt earned Walters a $1,500 fine from the FAA, the top prize from the Bonehead Club of Dallas, the altitude record for gas-filled clustered balloons (which could not be officially recorded because he was unlicensed and unsanctioned) and international admiration.

He appeared on "The Tonight Show" and was flown to New York to be on "Late Night With David Letterman," which he later described as "the most fun I've ever had."

Walters, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, took his own life in 1993.

-- Shelby Grad

Photo: Associated Press

More breaking news in L.A. Now:

Nearly 300 Los Angeles area gang members and associates arrested in nationwide crackdown

Riverside police officer is suspect in robbery

State superintendent joins students in earthquake drill

L.A. schools chief stands by controversial deal to use laid-off teachers as subs

Gun-toting schoolboy lied about racial threats, El Monte police say

After rains, another heat wave comes to Los Angeles [Updated]

Roman Polanski suffers another setback in efforts to be released from jail

Man fatally stabbed at downtown L.A. hotel

State's largest-ever earthquake drill begins this morning

 
Comments () | Archives (6)

Sometimes the fascination of human nature is like no other form of entertainment. Thanks Shelby.

That's sad that he committed suicide. I hope that he has found peace.

committed suicide? You buried the lead.

What exactly does this have to do with the child trapped in the ballon? Why does that image make the writer recall this idiot's claim to fame? How does the LA Times allow a headline like this to pass a merit test as news/information/entertainment? NOT WORTH READING!

He's dead, what peace is there in that?

He's dead, what peace is there in that?


Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video

About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.

Categories




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: