LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) 3 July 1982 -- A truck driver with 45 weather balloons rigged to a lawn chair took a 45 minute ride Friday up to 16,000 feet before he got cold, shot some balloons with a BB gun and crashed into a power line, officials said.
"I know it sounds strange, but it's true," Long Beach police Lt. Rod Mickelson said after he stopped laughing. Larry Walters, 33, of North Hollywood, was uninjured. The Federal Aviation Administration was not amused. Regional safety inspector Neal Savoy said the flying lawn chair was spotted by TWA and Delta jetliner pilots at 16,0000 feet above sea level. "We know he broke some part of the Federal Aviation Act," Savoy said. "If he had a pilot's license, we'd suspend that. But he doesn't."
Police said Walters went to his girlfriend's house in San Pedro Thursday night, inflated 45 six-foot-tall weather balloons with helium and attached them to an aluminum lawn chair tethered to the ground.
Friday morning, with half a dozen friends holding the tethers, Walters donned a parachute, strapped himself into the chair and had his friends let him up slowly. Minutes later he was calling for help on the CB radio he had with him.
"This guy broke into our channel with a mayday," said Doug dixon of an Orange County citizen's band radio club. "He said he had shot up like an elevator to 16,000 feet and was getting numb...He sounded worried but he wasn't panicked." However, after puncturing several of the balloons, Walters' BB pistol fell overboard and the chair drifted downward. The ropes entangled in a power line, briefly blackin out a small area of Long Beach. The chair dangled five feet above ground and Walters was able to get down safely.