5 votes

Honorable Mention: Lawnchair Harry

1982 At-Risk Survivor

Confirmed True by Darwin

(1982, California)

Larry Walters of Los Angeles is one of the few to contend for the Darwin Awards and live to tell the tale. "I have fulfilled my 20-year dream," said Walters, a former truck driver for a company that makes TV commercials. "I'm staying on the ground. I've proved the thing works."

Larry's boyhood dream was to fly. But fates conspired to keep him from his dream. He joined the Air Force, but his poor eyesight disqualified him from the job of pilot. After he was discharged from the military, he sat in his backyard watching jets fly overhead.

He hatched his weather balloon scheme while sitting outside in his "extremely comfortable" Sears lawnchair. He purchased 45 weather balloons from an Army-Navy surplus store, tied them to his tethered lawnchair (dubbed the Inspiration I) and filled the four-foot diameter balloons with helium. Then, armed with some sandwiches, Miller Lite, and a pellet gun, he strapped himself into his lawnchair. He figured he would shoot to pop a few of the many balloons when it was time to descend [...]

When his friends cut the cord anchoring the lawnchair to his Jeep, he did not float lazily up to 30 feet. Instead he streaked into the LA sky as if shot from a cannon, pulled by the lift of 45 helium balloons, holding 33 cubic feet of helium each.

He didn't level off at 100 feet, nor did he level off at 1000 feet. After climbing and climbing, he leveled off at 16,000 feet [...]

Read on :




The Darwin Awards archive was born on a Stanford University web server in 1994. It spun off a regular email newsletter. News of the website spread, an nominations culled by avid followers flew in from far and wide. As the number of stories in the archive grew, so did its acclaim. It became the locus for new Darwin Awards.

Eventually the website became more popular than Stanford's research-oriented webpages. The sysadmin suggested that it might be happier on someone else's server, and www.DarwinAwards.com was born.

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How many test pilots have not come home alive?

This award is unwarranted. His ingenuity should be applauded.

Montgolfier brothers on September 19, 1783 with an unmanned flight lasting 10 minutes. —a tethered flight, after experimenting with unmanned balloons and animals

On 27 May 1931, Auguste Piccard and Paul Kipfer took off from Augsburg, Germany, and reached a record altitude of 51,775 ft.

If he had done this before 1958 no regulations would have been violated.

Free includes debt-free!

Cyril's picture

Meh. I don't care what they say.

Meh. I don't care what they say.

Harry was a man of his ideas ! He made it !

As for the FAA, they already were a bunch of grumpy folks. Hmph !


"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

The Darwins are a great honor.

I'm not planning on dying soon, but when I do I hope it's by earning a Darwin.

Daily Paul cured my abibliophobia.

Cyril's picture



Be prepared, train well, I suspect the competition is fiercer than ever. ;)

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Thank you for this honorable mention. Allow me to say...

it is an honor, to be mentioned.

Daily Paul cured my abibliophobia.

Hey, chris, this is off topic, but...

See, I was nosin' around to find more on this guy named Jimmy Z. He's this geeky musician working on setting pi to music. (I left a comment on that on my post re DP posting frequencies.) And, well, as can happen, googling "Jimmy Z" turned up all sorts of unrelated material - not that it was immediately apparent seeing as I didn't know who the guy was beyond his apparently being part of some Pittsburgh rock band. In any event, one site that came up was called "Food Fashionista: fabulous food, travel & a splash of stilleto" - a website directed to jetsetters - not the lifestyle I'd imagined for a struggling artist but who was I to judge?

Anyway, as I scrolled down to see what connection there might be, I was perusing photos of this Monte Carlo "hot spot" being described and, well, I realized that the maître d' looked vaguely familiar. :) http://www.foodfashionista.com/media/images/2009/04/6a00e553...

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir