View Full Version : Lawnchair Larry rides again...

07-15-2002, 08:46 AM
Remember Lawnchair Larry?

LAWN CHAIR LARRY RELIVED: On July 2, Adam Savage was contracted by an
Australian TV company to re-create the flight of Lawn Chair Larry for an
upcoming special on urban legends. You may remember the story of Larry
Walters, who in 1982 tied more than a few helium balloons (about 45) to
his lawn chair in the hopes of hovering above his backyard. Walters
ended up over the Pacific Ocean where he was rescued ... after floating
over Los Angeles, through LAX's airspace and reaching 16,000 feet.
Savage's flight took him to a relatively modest 50-100 feet and after 12
minutes of filming, his BB gun helped him return safely to earth.Aveweb's Avflash ( www.avweb.com (http://www.avweb.com) )

Mike H.
07-15-2002, 09:54 AM
Norm, step away from the helium balloons!

Ed Harrow
07-15-2002, 11:32 AM
Did you know a similar event happened in Maine (I think) sometime in the late teens earlier 20's? Newspaper wanted some arial photos, planes were expensive, dangerous, hard to find, but what a way to sell papers they figured.

The chosen guy had quite an adventure... The film was OK when the camera was found, but I don't remember if the camera was repairable, and I think the guy was pretty well near frozen... I bet he didn't volunteer again, ever.

Todd Bradshaw
07-15-2002, 11:38 AM
Let's see... If Norm weighs about 180 lbs. - and helium has a lifting potential of around 70 lbs. per 1,000 cubic feet - and the balloons are about 3' in diameter... and the volume of a sphere is 4/3 Pi times the cube of the radius... and we can find a really sturdy, titanium lawnchair and a fairly light BB gun...and he's naked to save weight...how many balloons would we need........

Could use garbage bags instead. The good ones like Hefty Cinch Sacks fly pretty well and will survive multiple rough landings better - might be a better long-term investment and they hold helium longer than rubber balloons. You just don't want to fill them too full as they can be prone to "explosive tearing at altitude" if overfilled... Think he'll need a helmet?

Greg H
07-15-2002, 11:55 AM
Maybe you could design a folding para-wing of some type. Then he could fly the chair back down. Or better yet, use one of the ultralight canoes (wooden of course) and glide, with the wing, to a water landing.

07-15-2002, 12:02 PM
Saw a thing on TV one day about a couple of young guys that sat the high altitude record for helium filled ballons. They went high enough to need oxygen. The rate ascent got so fast that they had to start popping ballons to slow down, but they had to be carefull so as not to pop to many so they wouldn't come crashing to the ground. Here is a link to an article. Go to about the middle of the page:



Wild Wassa
07-15-2002, 12:19 PM
I'd 'warn him off' working with Aussies. He will be lucky if they let him have a go in his own chair.


ps, A few years ago a weather balloon from deep down south, crashed onto the metal roof of our carport. I was inside the house at the time, the noise reduced my life by about 10 years, I think. I thought something had fallen off a aeroplane. The kids ended up with a most impressive UFO. I ended with about a kilometre of waxed string.

[ 07-15-2002, 01:37 PM: Message edited by: Wild Wassa ]

07-15-2002, 12:49 PM
Todd, that would be 34 balloons.

jack grebe
07-15-2002, 12:56 PM
ok so how many tanks would that be

Todd Bradshaw
07-15-2002, 04:25 PM
Might want a spare balloon or two, just for safety. Of course then we'll need to fill his pockets full of sand for a bit of ballast - oh, wait - he won't have any pockets. We'll have to pack it into his helmet. He can wiggle his ears to sprinkle ballast when needed.

I can't remember how many cubic feet a welding tank holds. We we used to fly at Albuquerque, they would have gas balloon races on one afternoon. They would bring in semi trucks with three helium tanks on each trailer that were about 50' long. One of those would surely do, in case Norm catches the bug and wants to go several times.

I'm kind of partial to the derigable. It avoids those pesky problems like being forced to land in the parking lot of a Taco Bell (been there, done that). Maybe we should strap a fan to the back of the lawn chair. In 1898, Alberto Santos-Dumont flew around Paris in a home-made airship that his mother sewed together, so we should be able to make one with modern fabrics that's even better. I wonder if he just yelled down the stairs one day "Hey Mom, can you sew this for me?"

Ed Harrow
07-15-2002, 04:54 PM
218 cubic feet in an 'A' size cylinder at @ ~2200 psig.

Now, if you want this balloon contraption to get up and go, tie a gas bottle onto it and, at launch time, whack the valve off. ZOOOOOOOMMMM!

Greg H
07-15-2002, 05:19 PM

George Roberts
07-15-2002, 05:21 PM
Perhaps we could fly around the world with enough baloons. smile.gif

Chris Coose
07-15-2002, 05:26 PM
Ah, Lawnchair Larry .... my favorite arielist.
From the day I heard this story till the day I die it'll crack me up.
I'd have loved to have been there. I couldn't have been involved in the tracking or the rescue. I'd have been on the ground roaring at the sight.

A gigantic thanks to Adam Savage for doing something so outrageous that it continues to lighten up my existance.

Todd Bradshaw
07-15-2002, 06:02 PM
Notice how the ketch rig frees the canoe's interior space for paddling, sightseeing or drawing a bead on a specific balloon with the BB gun.

Todd Bradshaw
07-15-2002, 06:04 PM
...and it looks like he's already made it to Sydney - maybe a new round the world speed record.

Wild Wassa
07-15-2002, 06:55 PM
How confident does the pilot look?

Obviously he has tried this before.


ps, Great shot Greg. :cool:

[ 07-15-2002, 07:58 PM: Message edited by: Wild Wassa ]

07-15-2002, 09:47 PM
Okay, Guys, 'fess up...
How many of you jumped off of the neighbor's garage roof with a home made glider?

Say, "Me."

["Me" --Shang ]

On Vacation
07-15-2002, 09:50 PM
Greg, now thats good!!!

Mr. Know It All
07-15-2002, 10:52 PM
LMAO @ "Lawnchair Larry", Sounds like the title of a Joe Walsh song.
Peace----> Kevin in Ohio

capt jake
07-15-2002, 10:55 PM
"Norman flies in a open air canoe, an open air canoe, an open air canoe..." (think yellow...)
LMAO as well!!! Good job... :D

07-16-2002, 06:29 AM
Perhaps we could strap a few dozen to Steve the croc hunter when theres a good strong breeze.... no blankety BB gun for him though!!

Greg H
07-16-2002, 06:46 AM
Beyond the Norm, a Mid-Western ledgend

Notice the stability and directional control provided by the Double paddle.

Originally posted by Shang:
Okay, Guys, 'fess up...
How many of you jumped off of the neighbor's garage roof with a home made glider?

Say, "Me."

["Me" --Shang ]Seriously? :D

I built a "submarine" to use in our 2' deep wading pool when I was 6. It did submerge when I climbed aboard....... Never jumped off the roof though.

07-16-2002, 07:29 AM
If Steve Fosset could do it, so could Norm. Here's a way to get to Goolwa in March, How many baloons to lift the Prarie Islander, crew and enough bourbon for the trip? How long an anchor rope should Norm fit? Hmm, I seem to remember something about a wooden zepplin in an old Goon Show, horse drawn too I think.

07-16-2002, 07:43 AM
Glider off the garage roof? Nah - too much effort for too short a flight. My buddy David & I did do the 'parachute off the garage roof', though. Took one of his Mom's good bedsheets 'n' tied the corners together to make handles, held on for dear life & leaped from the peak to the lawn below. Found that the soft lawn was a better safety feature than the 'chute because there wasn't flight time enough from ten feet up to properly inflate the canopy before landing. Then we got the bright idea to run along the roof ridge to fill the canopy before embarking on the descent glidepath. This worked better, but we quickly found that if you didn't run fast enough the bedsheet would snag on the roof peak and you would become the weight on a pendulum that was brought to a rather sudden halt by interaction with the garage door. We had just perfected the running-start, open-garage-door-for-safety technique when David's mother came looking for the bedsheets and immediately curtailed our form of entertainment of the day. -Sigh-

Wayne Jeffers
07-16-2002, 08:13 AM
ROFL -- Some of us were fortunate to have survived childhood curiosity and adventurism, eh?

I did a few ill-advised things when I was young, but none of them involved serious heights.

Except, there was that time when I was about 12 when we climbed to the very top of some pine trees in a thicket, got them swaying, and swung from one to another. :rolleyes:


Mike H.
07-16-2002, 09:00 AM
Norm, I think you've been drafted! Tell the missus to pack you a good lunch!
Greg, you are toooo funny!

07-16-2002, 09:05 AM
Gliders & Parachutes? We just would take a running jump off the roofs. Now if only my knees didn't snap and pop I would be okay.

Wayne I did try the pine try thing one time. The top of the pine tree I was in broke off in my hand and the resulting fall of 20' or so wasn't to bad, but that sudden stop at the bottom hurt a little. Luckly falling through the tree slowed me down a little.

Lucky to survice childhood.


07-16-2002, 12:56 PM
If laughter is the best medicine we should all be healthier for this. My Tilley's off to you all. Perfecto, Greg.

So tell me again how much burboun one would need to get high enough to clear the Rockies?


07-16-2002, 11:30 PM
My roommate in college lived in Brooklyn when he was a kid and the sport when you wre young was running across roofs. As luck would have it, he fell off off the roof. What broke his fall? A wheelbarrow full of bricks! He had, and I assume still has, a permanent crease on one cheek. Landed bottom first.

I hope our mothers never know what we did.

07-18-2002, 03:17 AM
We had a flooded open cut gold mine at the bottom of a steep hill. We used to shoot over the edge on an old bike with a rope to retrieve it again. When the creek was in flood shooting the rapids in an old tin bath was a hoot too. Mum sort of knew but chose to let us have our adventures. She was very brave, but she and dad raced cars at the time and knew how we felt too.

Ed Harrow
02-12-2004, 10:50 PM
Again, not the target of my search, but deserving of a lift, I think.

Captain Pre-Capsize
02-12-2004, 11:05 PM
So true Ed, an enjoyable thread that reminds me...

As the oldest of five (now adult) children we were reminiscing at Thanksgiving once when I volunteered the source of my liquor when a teenager. Dad's liquor cabinet. I would take a bit of gin, vodka, bourbon, etc and pour it all into one small plastic shampoo bottle. My buddy did the same and off we went!

My siblings all began to grin as I told this and then I mentioned that I was always very careful to add the appropriate amount of water back into each liquor bottle to make up for what I'd taken. They simultaneously just ROARED with laughter!! Seems they did likewise!!! Poor old Dad probably had little but water in the "liquor cabinet." :D

02-12-2004, 11:22 PM
A wonderful thread to ressurrect! Like Chris Coose, I get a chuckle every time I am reminded of the tale. smile.gif

02-13-2004, 12:47 AM
"...and a fairly light BB gun...and he's naked to save weight..."

"...So you see, Your Honor, when a naked guy with a gun landed in my yard, of course I shot him!"