Fwd: 1997 Darwin Award Winner

Dr. Ernest N. Prabhakar (ernest@pundit)
Fri, 11 Apr 97 05:49:54 -0700

I think FoRK would approve of the Darwin Award for the 97%ers...

-- Ernie P.

Begin forwarded message:

Forwarded message:
From: Allan.Bowen@ssi.com
Date: 97-04-10 18:28:34 EDT


You all know about the Darwin Awards -It's an annual honor
given to the person who did the gene pool the biggest service by
killing themselves in the most extraordinarily stupid way.

The 1995 winner was the fellow who was killed by a Coke machine
which toppled over on top of him as he was attempting to tip a
free soda out of it.

In 1996 the winner was an Air Force sergeant who attached a JATO
unit to his car and crashed into a cliff several hundred feet
above the roadbed.

And now, the 1997 winner: Larry Waters of Los Angeles--one of
the few Darwin winners to survive his award winning

Larry's boyhood dream was to fly. When he graduated from high
school, he joined the Air Force in hopes of becoming a pilot.
Unfortunately, poor eyesight disqualified him. When he was
finally discharged, he had to satisfy himself with watching jets
fly over his back yard.

One day, Larry, had a bright idea. He decided to fly. He went
to the local Army-Navy surplus store and purchased 45 weather
balloons and several tanks of helium. The weather balloons,
when fully inflated, would measure more than four feet across.

Back home, Larry securely strapped the balloons to his sturdy
lawn chair. He anchored the chair to the bumper of his jeep and
inflated the balloons with the helium. He climbed on for a test
while it was still only a few feet above the ground.

Satisfied it would work, Larry packed several sandwiches and a
six-pack of Miller Lite, loaded his pellet gun--figuring he
could pop a few balloons when it was time to descend--and went
back to the floating lawn chair. He tied himself in, along with
his pellet gun and provisions. Larry's plan was to lazily float
up to a height of about 30 feet above his back yard after
severing the anchor and in a few hours come back down.

Things didn't quite work out that way.

When he cut the cord anchoring the lawn chair to his jeep, he
didn't float lazily up to 30 or so feet. Instead he streaked
into the LA sky as if shot from a cannon.

He didn't level off at 30 feet, nor did he level off at 100
feet. After climbing and climbing, he leveled off at 11,000
feet. At that height he couldn't risk shooting any of the
balloons, lest he unbalance the load and really find himself in
trouble. So he stayed there, drifting, cold and frightened, for
more than 14 hours.

Then he really got in trouble.

He found himself drifting into the primary approach corridor
of Los Angeles International Airport.

A United pilot first spotted Larry. He radioed the tower and
described passing a guy in a lawn chair with a gun. Radar
confirmed the existence of an object floating 11,000 feet above
the airport.

LAX emergency procedures swung into full alert and a helicopter
was dispatched to investigate.

LAX is right on the ocean. Night was falling and the offshore
breeze began to flow. It carried Larry out to sea with the
helicopter in hot pursuit.

Several miles out, the helicopter caught up with Larry. Once
the crew determined that Larry was not dangerous, they attempted
to close in for a rescue but the draft from the blades would
push Larry away whenever they neared.

Finally, the helicopter ascended to a position several hundred
feet above Larry and lowered a rescue line. Larry snagged the
line and was hauled back to shore. The difficult maneuver was
flawlessly executed by the helicopter crew.

As soon as Larry was hauled to earth, he was arrested by
waiting members of the LAPD for violating LAX airspace.

As he was led away in handcuffs, a reporter dispatched to cover
the daring rescue asked why he had done it. Larry stopped,
turned and replied nonchalantly, "A man can't just sit around."

Let's hear it for Larry Walters, the 1997 Darwin Award Winner!