Several years ago, I heard the story of Larry Walters, a 33-year-old man who decided he
wanted to see his neighborhood from a new perspective. He went down to the local army
surplus store one morning and bought forty-five used weather balloons. That afternoon he
strapped himself into a lawn chair, to which several of his friends tied the now
helium-filled balloons. He took along a six-pack of beer, a peanut-butter-and-jelly
sandwich, and a BB gun, figuring he could shoot the balloons one at a time when he was
ready to land.
Walters, who assumed the balloons would lift him about 100 feet in the air, was caught
off guard when the chair soared more than 11,000 feet into the sky -- smack into the
middle of the air traffic pattern at Los Angeles International Airport. Too frightened to
shoot any of the balloons, he stayed airborne for more than two hours, forcing the airport
to shut down its runways for much of the afternoon, causing long delays in flights from
across the country.
Soon after he was safely grounded and cited by the police, reporters asked him three
"Where you scared?" "Yes."
"Would you do it again?" "No."
"Why did you do it?" "Because," he said, "you can't just
Leadership, Summer 1993, p. 35.
Dr. J.B. Gambrel tells an amusing story from General Stonewall Jackson's famous valley
campaign. Jackson's army found itself on one side of a river when it needed to be on the
other side. After telling his engineers to plan and build a bridge so the army could
cross, he called his wagon master in to tell him that it was urgent the wagon train cross
the river as soon as possible. The wagon master started gathering all the logs, rocks and
fence rails he could find and built a bridge. Long before day light General Jackson was
told by his wagon master all the wagons and artillery had crossed the river. General
Jackson asked where are the engineers and what are they doing? The wagon master's only
reply was that they were in their tent drawing up plans for a bridge.
Pulpit Helps, May,