The Flight of Larry Walters


A true story.

A few years ago 33-year-old truck driver Larry Walters made national news. Larry had a habit of spending his weekends in his Los Angeles backyard, just south of L.A. International Airport, drinking...Pepsi...and eating peanut butter sandwiches. He would sit in his favorite lawn

staring at the houses around him in the subdivision where he lived. Not a real exciting life.

One day abject boredom prompted Larry Walters to buy some bal­loons and a tank of helium. He figured on tying the balloons to his lawn chair, filling them with helium, and floating up for an aerial view of the neighborhood. He judged he’d get no higher than 100 feet, but just in case, he got out his BB gun and loaded it. He planned to regulate his alti­tude by shooting out a couple of balloons. I’m not sure how many six­ packs of...Pepsi...he had consumed when he came to that idea, but he decided it was worth a try.

So Larry Walters of Los Angeles went out and bought 45 big weather baIloons, a huge tank of helium, and some rope. First he secured his lawn chair to the ground, then he filled the balloons with helium. One by one he tied them to his lawn chair. Before liftoff he went in the house and got another six-pack of...Pepsi, a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and his BB gun. Then he went out and sat in his lawn chair. He had instructed his neighbors to cut the ropes securing the chair when he was ready. “Let’s go!” he yelled, and the ropes were cut.

But he didn’t go 100 feet. He went up 11,000 feet! Shot straight up in the air! And the BB gun? It was useless since he was using both hands to hang on to the chair for dear life.

He zoomed straight up into the landing pattern at L.A. Airport. The pilot of an approaching Continental DC 10 reported that he had just ~passed a man in a lawn chair, and the control tower told him to report in immediately upon landing. They thought the pilot might have been drink­ing a little too much...Pepsi. Can you imagine being a passenger in that plane? “Look, mom, out the window. There’s a man in a lawn chair!”

Eventually they sent up helicopters to rescue Larry Walters. They closed the airport and diverted all landings and takeoffs at LAX while they played tag with this fellow in his lawn chair at 11,000 feet. When they finally got him down, he was surrounded by TV crews, the police, fire and rescue squads, and plenty of curious people. It was a major event.

“Were you scared?” asked one of the TV reporters, thrusting a mike in his face.

“No, not really” said Larry.

“Are you going to do it again?” asked another reporter.

“No,” said Larry.

“What in the world made you do it the first time?”

Larry Walters thought about it for a moment and said, “Well, you can’t just sit there.”

As heard from a sermon of Don Young.

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