Saturday, December 23, 2006

One man's idiot is another woman's genius

This guy Ron reminded me today of one of my great heroes, Larry the Lawn Chair Guy. Larry was a guy with a dream. He wanted to fly -- in a lawn chair. And he did it.

He attached a bunch of helium balloons to a lawn chair and flew off into the big blue with a CB radio, a BB gun and a six pack of beer. Okay, I made that last part up but he did fly, although as with most experimental flights, things didn't go entirely smoothly.

One supposes because he couldn't anchor all that helium on the ground, he had to get into lawn chair from the roof. He launched unexpectly early when the sharp edge of the roof eaves cut the tether lines. There were some tense moments when he disappeared into the fog, out of sight of his ground crew. Ron has a link of the audio from the flight and the exchanges with his girlfriend are priceless.

That was one dumb thing he did, launching on a foggy day. Any balloonist knows that you don't rise through cloud cover since you never know what's flying above it. But then again. Larry wasn't a pilot. He had no license to fly anything. Which was a good thing because the FAA was not amused and would have pulled his license if he had one. The pilots of the 737 that passed him in the sky didn't think it was all that funny either and really that was the other dumb thing he did. He went up to 14,000 feet. He could have killed a lot of people if he had collided with a passenger plane.

Fortunately, no one was hurt, he landed safely and enjoyed some notoriety post flight. He made the rounds on the talk show circuit for a while and even inspired another guy to duplicate the feat. Unfortunately, that was the high point of his life. His girlfriend left him, he went broke and ultimately commited suicide.

Nonetheless, Larry is hero of mine. You have to admire a guy with that kind of sense of adventure and what's not to like about a man who refuses to give up on his dream?

[graphic gratitude]


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