The Pixar folks are hosting a publicity event in the Twin Cities today to promote the upcoming animated movie “Up”, about a curmudgeon who ties balloons to his house and goes for a ride. Promoters have tied balloons to a chair at the Metrodome and are giving people rides. The Star Tribune’s James Lileks posted a picture.
I wonder, though, how many people remember Lawn Chair Larry, and whether history will treat him more kindly than reality did.
Lawn Chair Larry — Larry Walters — tied helium balloons to this lawn chair in 1982…
… with the idea that he’d go for a short flight, just to see what it was like. He miscalculated things, though, and ended up soaring to 16,000 feet, where the pilot of an airliner uttered — for the first time in history — the words, “I’ve just passed a guy flying in a lawn chair.”
Lawn Chair Larry’s plan was to shoot out the balloons with a pellet gun when it was time to descend, but he dropped the gun. He eventually landed in Long Beach. (If you’ve got RealPlayer, listen to the audio of conversations during the flight here.)
For the adventure, Walter received honorable mention for the 1982 Darwin Awards, and generally was ridiculed until he walked into the woods in 1993 and shot himself to death.
“Up” will probably rake in a fortune when it opens later this month. Larry wasn’t so lucky. Had he just used his chair to sit and watch TV, he’d have been considered normal.