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  • - Gosh darn, flim flarm, ding dang, gobbledyguk,

  • we gotta go back to PT-Bergy, H-E-double-hockey-sticks.

  • You know, Pennsylvania.

  • (majestic fanfare musical sting)

  • - Hello, I'm Doug Jones,

  • and today we're gonna talk about Lawnchair Larry.

  • - Cheers. - Cheers.

  • Our story begins in 1962.

  • A 13-year-old boy named Larry Walters

  • walks into an Army-Navy surplus store,

  • and amongst the Swiss Army knives

  • and the heavy duty flashlights,

  • he sees right before him a weather balloon.

  • Suddenly inspiration hits him like a bolt of lightning.

  • He says, oh my God,

  • if I had enough of these balloons, I could fly.

  • He graduates from high school

  • and enlists in the US Air Force,

  • but due to his poor eyesight, he's rejected

  • and this devastates him, but he says, you know what?

  • I'm not gonna let this stop me.

  • Fast forward to 1982.

  • Larry is now a 33-year-old truck driver,

  • and he still hasn't been able

  • to get this idea of flying out of his head.

  • Larry's driving his truck.

  • He hears an airplane.

  • He looks up and he's like, son of a bitch,

  • That's gonna be me someday.

  • Out of my way, asshole. (mimics horn honking)

  • (Derek laughing)

  • Let it out.

  • (Derek laughing)

  • So he brings his girlfriend, Carol,

  • into the very same Army-Navy surplus store

  • he went to as a kid, and he says,

  • I'm gonna buy a bunch of these balloons,

  • I'm gonna tie them to a lawn chair,

  • and then I'm gonna fly.

  • She says, you can't do that,

  • that's way too danger. (burps)

  • Excuse me.

  • That's way too dangerous.

  • He says, no, no, no, no, no, I know what I'm doing.

  • And Carol says, wow, okay, I'm in.

  • Takes out her credit card,

  • and spends over $4,000 on weather balloons,

  • a lawn chair, helium tanks, CB radio set, a BB pellet gun.

  • So, Larry lays out the plan, and he says,

  • okay, I'm gonna take off from your backyard in San Pedro.

  • I'm gonna fly over the San Gabriel Mountains.

  • When I reach an altitude of approximately 7,000 feet,

  • I'm gonna use the BB pistol to shoot out the balloons.

  • And then I'll gradually begin

  • my safe descent into the Mojave Desert.

  • Now, here's the important part.

  • Right before I take off,

  • you're gonna notify the FAA

  • so that I don't get hit by a plane.

  • I really don't wanna get hit by a plane.

  • I spilled on my nuts.

  • (Derek snorts)

  • So, July second, 1982, Larry establishes his ground crew,

  • which consists of his girlfriend, Carol, and his buddy, Ron.

  • He's like, hey, what's up?

  • I'm Ron.

  • They take 42 weather balloons and fill them with helium,

  • tie it to a aluminum lawn chair,

  • tie that to two dozen jugs water for ballast.

  • Larry christens his contraption Inspiration I.

  • And he's like, okay, it's go time, let's rock and roll.

  • They cut the first tether, suddenly Carol's like,

  • whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, wait a minute, Larry.

  • This is a big mistake.

  • Larry turns to Carol and says, baby,

  • I'm sorry, but a man can't just sit around.

  • (Derek laughing)

  • Right then and there, a gust of wind comes along

  • and the second tether snaps in half,

  • and Larry shoots off into the sky

  • at a thousand feet per minute.

  • Larry, uh, Carol freaks out.

  • Larry is up in the sky, and he's like,

  • oh my God, my greatest wish has come true.

  • Ron turns to Carol and says, my God, Carol,

  • we forgot to notify the FAA.

  • Oh my God, I'm so drunk. (Derek laughs)

  • So, Larry gets on his CB radio,

  • and he's like, (mics static) okay, I'm at 500 feet.

  • I am now entering federal airspace.

  • (mimics static) I am at 1,450 feet,

  • higher than the Sears Tower.

  • (mimics static) I am now at 6,500 feet,

  • I'm above the clouds.

  • At that very moment,

  • two commercial airline pilot (burps) flying by.

  • He's like, see the game last night?

  • That Fernando Valenzuela has one hell of an arm. (laughs)

  • That son of a bitch.

  • And then Larry's like, (Derek laughing)

  • (mimics stic) now I'm at 8,000 feet.

  • (heavy breathing) Oxygen becomes scarce at 8,500 feet.

  • He's like, when I was a teenager, I experienced Beatlemania,

  • but this is more like Fernandomania, am I right?

  • And then Larry's like, holy shit, oh my God.

  • I'm at 16,000 feet.

  • I'm three miles above sea level.

  • I thought I would stop at 7,000,

  • and now I am at two, double, two over double.

  • Oh God, dear God, oh, what have I done?

  • The pilot looks over, well, I'll be a son of a bitch.

  • (Derek laughs)

  • We got a guy on a lawn chair holding a gun.

  • Carol freaks out, she's like, Larry, you're too high.

  • You're gonna get in trouble.

  • But she's like, how's the view?

  • And he was like, it's nice, it's real good,

  • but you're right, it's time to come back down now.

  • He takes the BB pistol.

  • He shoots out, pew, pew, pew, pew, pew, pew, pew,

  • seven of the 42 weather balloons.

  • And then he sets the gun on his lap

  • and it falls into the sky, and it's gone,

  • and he's like, oh, my gun, whoa, no, oh no,

  • what am I gonna do now?

  • Well, as it turns out,

  • 35 weather balloons is the perfect amount of balloons

  • to make a safe and gradual descent into the land.

  • Inspiration I lands onto the power cords in Long Beach,

  • and knocking out the power in the entire neighborhood.

  • Carol runs up to him,

  • and Carol says, oh my God, thank God you're okay.

  • Gives him a big-ass hug and is like,

  • please tell me you're never gonna do that again.

  • He makes the evening news.

  • He never gets charged with anything.

  • The very next week,

  • Larry gets a special invitation to be a guest

  • on the "Late Night with David Letterman."

  • - [Derek] Wow.

  • - [Doug] Letterman says, wow, how does it feel to accomplish

  • something that you've always wanted to do?

  • And Larry says, I've achieved inner peace,

  • and I'm the happiest person alive today.

  • Taking me out of the space I was in

  • Making my wishes come true

  • Believe it or not, I'm walking on air

  • ♪ I never thought I could feel so free-ee-ee

  • Flying away on balloons in a chair

  • Who could it be

  • Believe it or not, it's Larry

  • - And that's now officially a parody, which is royalty-free,

  • so you can use this.

  • - To Larry Walters.

  • - Larry Walters. (glasses clink)

  • - Hi, my name is Laura,

  • my name is Laura Steinel, (lamp clinking)

  • and today, we're talking about Gordon Cooper.

  • The year is 1963, Gordon Cooper,

  • he's this military test pilot from Oklahoma.

  • NASA had just begun, and so, he was one

  • of seven astronauts chosen for the Project Mercury.

  • Also really chill, he was like,

  • please, call me Gordo, don't call me Gordon.

  • I'm not that official.

  • Right?

  • And so all these space missions go off without a hitch.

  • And NASA is like, we've done really well, congrats, NASA.

  • And they're patting themselves on the back,

  • and Gordo's like, guys, I totally get it,

  • like, that's really cool, like, pats on the back.

  • But if you want to send a man to the moon,

  • you should maybe see if someone could be in space for,

  • I don't know, 24 hours.

  • And NASA's like, ugh, yeah, I guess, Gus,

  • yeah, sure, Gus. - Gordo.

  • - Oh (bleep), sorry, I'm an idiot.

  • - [Derek] It's okay, you're fine.

  • - So Gordo goes on the launch pad.

  • And NASA be like, hey, just like really quick,

  • like, don't touch anything.

  • NASA would completely control everything.

  • It was so bad that the astronauts felt like spam in a can,

  • is what they referred to themselves as.

  • So anyway, well, he launches into space,

  • and he's like three, two, one, blastoff.

  • (Laura mimicking rocket exploding)

  • Are you shooting that?

  • Okay, good.

  • He gets up into space and everything's cool.

  • He's like, I'm orbiting the (bleep) Earth.

  • Oh, I'm sorry, or-

  • - [Derek] No can swear.

  • - No, my mom, I try, I'm not.

  • I'm gonna try not to swear.

  • So he's in space.

  • He sends back the first TV images of a human back to Earth.

  • He has a little powdered roast beef dinner.

  • He's just having a ball.

  • So he takes a nap, the first guy to ever sleep in space.

  • He wakes up and he's like, it's good to be Gordo.

  • And then he's like, oh (bleep), no, it's not because.

  • Beep, beep!

  • Oh (bleep), I have no stabilization unit.

  • Everyone on mission control is freaking out.

  • They're like, oh God, this doesn't look good.

  • And Gus Grissom was like, bro, I love you.

  • I'm gonna tell your wife you're a hero.

  • Gordo's like, no, stop it,

  • I'm gonna take control over the spaceship.

  • Gus is like, you're about to do something none,

  • that no one has ever done before.

  • And Gordo's like, yeah, no, I know,

  • so just shut the (bleep) up, Gus, I've got control.

  • And he starts to take over manual control.

  • But at that moment, he loses radio signal with Gus Grissom.

  • And so, he gets a radio signal over to his friend,

  • John Glenn, who's on the recovery boat over in Japan.

  • And he's like, John Glenn, hey, it's me, Gordo.

  • I have absolutely no power in my spacecraft.

  • And I just wanna get back home

  • because I'm a really chill guy, it's me, Gordo.

  • And he's like, okay, here's what we're gonna do.

  • And so, together, they go through this checklist.

  • Put this thing up, like, press this button.

  • There's all these things he needs to do.

  • But then Gordo's like, oh, (bleep), beep!

  • And his carbon dioxide meter's going off.

  • And it's like, beep, beep, you're (bleep)ed!

  • And he's like, oh my God, you're right,

  • I'm totally (bleep)ing (bleep)ed.

  • But no, but he's chiller than that.

  • No, hold on, he's way calmer than that.

  • John Glenn, look, my carbon dioxide meter's going off,

  • and it's like a hundred degrees in my cabin,

  • which means he's (bleep) dying.

  • But he's not being a Debbie Downer about it.

  • And he's like, I need to get to Earth,

  • but like, manual reentry had never been done before.

  • So if he enters the Earth's atmosphere too steep,

  • he's gonna blow up.

  • So he says, okay, there's the Big Dipper,

  • there's the Little Dipper, Gemini.

  • He draws an axis on the window,

  • and uses the constellations as his constant.

  • And he says, this is going to be my angle

  • at which I can enter Earth's atmosphere,

  • which I think is pretty incredible.

  • So John Glenn is like, okay, 10, nine, eight, seven, six.

  • Gordo's like, let's just like, do it, I'm ready.

  • So he fires, uh, eh, eh.

  • What does this mean? (laughs)

  • (Derek chuckling)

  • What's it called when there's fire coming out of stuff?

  • When it's like a fire, aw! (laughs)

  • He fires the rockets. (Laura mimics exploding)

  • He had a five-dollar wristwatch,

  • and that's what he used to figure out

  • how long to fire his rockets. (Laura mimics exploding)