Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Balloon boy hoax rumours as Falcon Heene tells CNN 'we did this for a show'

Family deny episode was a publicity stunt

Rescuers retrieve the runaway balloon originally believed to have carried six-year-old Falcon Heene (left). Global audiences were gripped as the drama unfolded live on TV news channels
Six-year-old Falcon Heene waves after a news conference as he sits in the bed of his father's pickup truck outside the family's home
Falcon Heene at his home in Fort Collins

Hours after the "balloon boy" drama of 6-year-old Falcon Heene, thought to be trapped in a hot-air balloon, speculation intensified that the episode was a hoax orchestrated by the family.

Asked if the incident was a publicity stunt, the boy's father answered: "That's horrible after the crap we just went through. No."

When later asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer in a live interview why he didn't come out of hiding in a box when called, Falcon looked at his parents, and said, "You guys said that ... we did this for the show." (YouTube videos below).

>Click More Pictures to launch gallery

The family did not elaborate on the answer.

When Blitzer later asked what the boy had meant his father Richard Heene said:

"I'm kind of appalled after all the feelings that I went through up and down that you guys are trying to suggest something else."

Earlier in the day the boy's brother had said he saw Falcon Heene get in the balloon before it took off.

The flight lasted two hours and spanned 50 miles, setting off a frantic search.

A bizarre scene was played out live on television as the balloon floated off in the wind, tipping precariously at times before eventually falling to the ground.

The Colorado Army National Guard sent an OH-58 Kiowa helicopter and was preparing to send a Black Hawk UH-60 to try to rescue Falcon, possibly by lowering someone to the balloon.

They were also working with pilots of ultralight aircraft on the possibility of putting weights on the home-made craft to push it down.

Falcon: We did it for the show

But the balloon landed on its own in a field and sheriff's deputies secured it to keep it in place.

Northbound departures at Denver International Airport were suspended as a precaution against a possible collision between the balloon and an aircraft.

Father: I'm appalled

The balloon is thought to have been made by the boy's parents for flying into the eye of storms to gather data.

Mr and Mrs Heene are storm chasers and have appeared twice on the ABC reality show Wife Swap.

Mr Heene is the host of a show called The Psyience Detectives which invesigates paranormal activity.

Mr and Mrs Heene also starred in Box Time Playhouse and Box Time Fire Truck and are briefly mentioned in the book 'Acting is Everything' by Judy Kerr.

Sheriff Jim Alderman said he would meet with investigators on Friday to see if the case warranted further investigation.

"As this point there's no indication that this was a hoax," Alderden said.

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