Update: The boy was never in the balloon.
A Colorado father rejected suggestions on Friday that a search-and-rescue operation triggered by fears his son had floated away in a home-made balloon was an attention-seeking hoax.Richard Heene appeared on several morning television programs to beat back the hoax talk, fueled by 6-year-old Falcon Heene’s statement that he had hidden in the family’s attic on Thursday “for the show.”
“Absolutely not, this is not some sort of hoax,” a visibly irritated Heene said on NBC’s “Today” show in an interview made more bizarre by Falcon vomiting while his father talked.
“What have I got to gain?” asked Heene, an amateur scientist whose family is known for their adventurous storm-chasing and who have appeared on prime-time reality TV.
Falcon was found alive in the attic of his home — a happy ending after he was thought to be in the silver flying saucer-shaped balloon watched live on television as it drifted for hours over Colorado. When the craft landed, the boy was not inside, prompting fears he had fallen out.
Local authorities said that while they did not believe the incident was a hoax they would interview the family again.
But Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden, who is in charge of the case, told local media early on Friday that “if it turns out to be a hoax … certainly we would seek compensation” for the cost of the rescue efforts.
NO STRANGERS TO TV
Falcon — whose brother had said that he had climbed inside the balloon before it became untethered — said he had hidden in the attic over the garage because he was scared after his father scolded him earlier for climbing into the balloon’s utility compartment.
But later on Thursday, Falcon himself aroused suspicions when asked on CNN’s “Larry King Live” why he stayed in hiding so long when people were calling his name. “You guys (his parents) said that, um, we did this for the show,” he said.
Richard Heene and his wife, Mayumi, and three sons have appeared on ABC television reality show “Wife Swap” in which families swap mothers to deal with family problems.
Richard Heene said the balloon was part of an experiment by the Fort Collins, Colorado family whose adventures can be seen on their videos posted videos on You Tube.
A small homemade helium balloon resembling a flying saucer and containing a 6-year-old boy, is pictured floating thousands of feet above Colorado, in this video grab taken and released on October 15, 2009. The Denver Post newspaper reported that the boy got into the device at his family’s home in Fort Collins and that it then came loose from its tether. …
A giant silvery helium balloon floated away from a yard in Colorado with a 6-year-old boy believed to be aboard and slowly touched down in a field two hours later with the child nowhere in sight, setting off a frantic search.
The saga captivated people around the country as they stopped to watch the jaw-dropping sight on television of the balloon gliding through the air. The flying saucer-like balloon tipped precariously at times before gliding to the ground in a field, the culmination of a two-hour, 50-mile journey through two counties.
Larimer County sheriff’s spokeswoman Kathy Messick said one of the boy’s two older brothers saw 6-year-old Falcon Heene get into a box that was attached to the balloon with pegs. The box was not found when the balloon landed; several people reported seeing something fall from the balloon while it was in the air.
The balloon was owned by the boy’s parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene, who are storm chasers and also appeared on the ABC reality show “Wife Swap.”
Kevin Kuretich, of the Colorado Division of Emergency Management, said authorities were searching the ground along the path of balloon. “We’re searching for the boy from the point where this took off to where it landed,” Kuretich said.
He said the craft had some kind of electric power unit which was run by double-C batteries. He said the balloon did seem to be big enough to carry a 6-year-old.
Messick said investigators are looking into every possibility, including whether the boy was ever in the balloon. Yellow crime-scene tape was placed around the home.
A Kiowa helicopter was being equipped with an infrared camera to fly at 1,000 feet and help search the area where something reportedly fell from the balloon, Army National Guard Capt. Michael Odgers said.
The camera detects temperature differences and could spot a body temperature if the boy were somewhere on the ground.
Jason Humbert saw the balloon land. He said he had gotten a call from his mother in Texas who told him about the balloon. He said he was in a field checking on an oil well when he found himself surrounded by police who had been chasing the balloon, which came to a rest 12 miles northeast of Denver International Airport.
“It looked like an alien spaceship you see in those old, old movies. You know, those black-and-white ones. I came down softly. I asked a police officer if the boy was OK and he said there was no one in it,” Humbert said.
via No sign of boy said to have floated off on balloon – Yahoo! News.