A 6-year-old Fort Collins boy feared to have fallen from an experimental balloon to his likely death was hiding in his garage attic all the time.
Authorities from Larimer County to Denver had been searching for Falcon Heene since his brother reported that Falcon had climbed into a small compartment under the helium-filled balloon moments before it unexpectedly came loose from its tether at the family house and rose into the sky.
Falcon’s parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene, called police, as well as KUSA-TV 9News to ask the television station to send its helicopter in pursuit.
The balloon voyage southeast from Fort Collins was telecast live across the nation on cable news programs. Hearts broke when the balloon landed softly about 1:30 p.m. south of Denver International Airport and television coverage showed viewers that no one was aboard.
While all eyes were on the balloon chase and landing, Falcon apparently was lying low in a box in the attic above the garage. Police officers spent the day with the family and had searched the house and property when they first arrived.
The complete story of Falcon’s non-flight and why his brother said Falcon was on the balloon is expected to come out later Thursday.
Temperatures were in the upper 60s Thursday, facilitating the takeoff of a balloon never meant to carry people. It reportedly was intended to fly into storms to catch data.
If Falcon had been aboard, the balloon apparently took off so fast he would have had only 30 seconds to jump out.
The balloon traveled as much as 60 miles and as high as 3,000 feet above the more than mile-high terrain.
It looked at times like a silver mushroom or a UFO or even the spaceship that hovered over Johannesburg in the movie District 9. The situation Thursday was similar to the movie in one sense: No one had ever dealt with anything like this before.
Richard Heene, a science aficionado who chases storms, and his wife, Mayumi, appeared on the 100th episode of ABC’s Wife Swap in 2008.
Quotes from the ABC show, Wife Swap, confirm the family’s adventurous nature…
The families that have been chosen for the 100th episode swap are the storm-chasing, science-obsessed Heene family from Colorado and the psychic, performing arts-loving Silvers from Florida.
When the Heene family aren’t chasing storms, they devote their time to scientific experiments that include looking for extraterrestrials and building a research-gathering flying saucer to send into the eye of the storm. In this ultimate swap, the Heenes swap lives with a psychic mom who speaks to the dead and can control the weather, her husband and her children — who believe they are destined to be stars. This show will feature aliens, punk rockers, past-life regression and, for the first time ever, the children from the two families will face off in a kids’ table meeting. “Heene/Silver,” the 100th episode of Wife Swap, destined to become a classic!