Begin With The End In Mind

December 29, 2005

Jeff Garrett had a hilarious post on his blog on the 21st. of this month. I haven’t had a lot of time to post this week, I will just share it here for you. Get ready, you are going to laugh!

Larry Walter’s childhood dream was to fly but his poor eyesight disqualified him from becoming a pilot in the Air Force. Determined to fulfill his dream, he purchased 45 weather balloons, filled them with helium, and tied them to his lawn chair which was anchored to the bumper of his jeep. In preparation for his flight he strapped on a parachute, took a CB radio to communicate with his friends on the ground, packed some soda, and a BB gun to shoot the balloons when he wanted to come down. Larry planned to float about 100 feet off the ground and come back down after a couple of hours. But things did not go as he planned.

When Larry’s friends helped him cut the cords that anchored the lawn chair to his jeep he shot up into the LA sky as if he were fired from a cannon. He leveled off at 16,000 feet (about 3 miles high!). At this altitude he was cold, frightened, and helpless. He was afraid to shoot the balloons because it may unbalance the load. When he drifted into the primary approach corridor of the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) he knew that he was in trouble.

A TWA pilot passed Larry and radioed the airport explaining that he had just past a man in a lawn chair with a gun in his lap. Radar confirmed that there was an object floating 16,000 feet above the airport. LAX declared an emergency and dispatched a helicopter. Larry continued to drift toward the Pacific Ocean. The helicopter finally lowered a rescue line and pulled Larry to safety. He was arrested by LAPD for violating LAX airspace. As he was carried away in handcuffs a reporter asked him why he had done it. Larry nonchalantly responded, “A man just can’t sit around.”

This story illustrates the futility and danger of taking off without knowing where you are going to land. Many people intend to float through life aimlessly. It’s always a good idea to pray, plan well, and seek advice from people who have experience. Don’t just take off. Begin with the end in mind.

This true story, which happened in 1982, was reported by the Associated Press. You can listen to the tape recorded CB conversation between Larry and his friends during his flight at http://www.markbarry.com/lawnchairman.html.


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