1982: Larry Walters had always wanted to be a pilot, and on 2 July he finally achieved his ambition.
The Los Angeles truck driver bought a bunch of weather balloons, inflated them with helium and tied them to an ordinary garden chair – what the Americans call a lawn chair. He then donned a parachute, strapped himself into the chair and instructed his ground crew to release the cords that tethered his home-made flying machine to the ground.
Walters had expected to rise gently into the sky and to float about at a modest altitude; instead, he zoomed upwards at an alarming speed and drifted into the airspace over Long Beach airport.
He carried an air gun, with which he intended to pop the balloons, one by one, when he wanted to descend, but he accidentally dropped it.
After an hour and a half, the balloons-and-chair contraption lost height and Walters ended his maiden flight entangled in a power line.
So that’s how he acquired his pilot wings and his nicknames – “the Lawn Chair Pilot” and “Lawn Chair Larry”.