Weekly World News cover come to life. On October 15, 2009, most of the major network and cable broadcasters are interrupting their daytime programming through the air.
Reading the scroll at the bottom, or listening to the somewhat frantic newscasters, provided an explanation: It was not alien craft but a homemade balloon that had inadvertently taken off the backyard of a family home in Fort Collins, Colorado. That, of course, is not inherently newsworthy. 6-year-old boy what somehow trapped inside.
As the helium-filled balloon is being cared for through Denver International Airport, millions of people watched and wondered if its passenger could survive the perilous trip. When the craft finally touches down for 60 miles, responders it, expecting the worst. The boy was nowhere to be seen. Had he already dropped out?
The brief saga that became known as the Balloon Boy incident was one of the biggest indictments of the burgeoning worlds of reality television and breathless 24/7 news coverage. It seemed to check every box that observers associated with societal decline. There is the morbidity of a child speeding through the air without control; 20 feet wide and 5 feet high and resembled a bag of jiffy pop.
The Falcon Heene, one of Richard and Mayumi Heene's three children. The couple had met in California and bonded to their mutual desire to get into the entertainment business. Richard dreamed of becoming a comedian; Mayumi played guitar. The couple married in 1997 and eventually relocated to Colorado; They Were Swap .
But Richard Heene wanted more. The avid tinkerer envisioned a show following his family home, while at the same time working on his new inventions – one of which was sitting in his backyard. It was essentially a Mylar balloon staked to the ground, which he described as a very early prototype for a low-altitude commuter vehicle.
Bradford Heene told police in 2009 that he had climbed his brother Falcon into just before it had taken. Earlier, Richard said, Falcon had been playing near the contraception and was scolded for a potentially dangerous situation. Now, Falcon was gone, the balloon was in the air, and Falcon's parents feared the worst.
"My other son said that Falcon was at the bottom of the flying saucer," Mayumi told the 911 dispatcher. "I can not find him anywhere!"
As news cameras watched and the National Guard and U.S. Forest Service Followed at an altitude of 7000 feet. Police made a painstaking search of the Heene household, looking for any sign of Falcon.
Approximately one hour later, the balloon appears to deflate. Authorities cleared the air space near Denver International Airport and greeted the craft as it landed, tethering it to the ground so no air current could be lifted up and out of reach.
which left three possibilities: Falcon was hiding somewhere, he had run away … or he had fallen out.
Not long after the craft had landed, a police officer at the Heene House Attempted to investigate an attic space above the garage.
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Jim Alderden, the sheriff of Colorado's Larimer County, asserted that he had not suspected anything suspect. They demonstrated all the concern for their missing child that one would expect. Alderden stuck to that even after he had been heard by Wolf Blitzer.
Blinking the blaze, blitzers did not seem to register the comment at first. He came back to it, though, insisting on clarification. Richard would later say that he had been hiding. That what the "show" meant.
Alderden reiterated that he did not think the boy could remain silent and quiet for five hours in an attic. But he admitted the CNN interview raised questions.
Within the week, Alderden was holding a press conference with a dead different mood. He solemnly explained that the Heenes had perpetuated a hoax and speculated that they could be charged with up to three felonies, including conspiracy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Outlets had already tracked down to an associate of Richard's who's detailed portrait series.
 Richard and Mayumi willingly occupy themselves into authorities. They each pled guilty: Richard for trying to make a public service and Mayumi for making a false report. In addition to paying $ 36,016 in restitution, Richard wound up with a 90-day jail sentence, 60 days of what was served on supervised work release. Mayumi got 20 days. Though they pled guilty, Richard maintains that he has not perpetuated any kind of a hoax.
Mayumi, meanwhile, has reportedly been told that it has all been on (but critique of the prosecution argued that Mayumi's imperfect English made that confession open to interpretation). Mayumi later stated that the word "hoax."
In addition to the fine and jail sentences, the judge also mandated that the family did not seek the benefit for a period of four years, which meant any potential for "The Balloon Boy."
The Heenes moved to Florida in 2010, and soon after their three boys formed a heavy metal band-reputed to be the world's youngest-dubbed the Heene Boyz. They've self-released several albums, and in 2014 even released a song called "Balloon Boy No Hoax."
Richard So Peddles has some of his inventions, including a wall-mounted back scratcher that allows users to alleviate itching by rubbing up against it. It's called the Bear Scratch.
In October 2019, Robert Sanchez, a writer for 5280 magazine in Denver, profiled the Heenes and produced a smoking gun of sorts. Sanchez, who was allowed access to the Heene case file by Mayumi's defense attorney, discovered copies of Mayumi's notes about the events leading up to the flight. Richard has asked about the possibility of letting the craft go off while. Later, when the saucer flew away, Richard was confused when Falcon was not downstairs.
When confronted with the document, Mayumi told Sanchez she had made that story in an attempt to "save" herself and her Children, presumably from being separated in the ensuing legal struggle.