Earlier today a story about a boy that was thought to have stepped into a huge home-made balloon was making International headlines. Fortunately, the 6 year old Colorado boy was found hiding in a cardboard box in his families garage attic.
Apparently the family had made a giant silver coated balloon and when it floated away from the families yard early this morning the family couldn’t find their young son so they assumed the boy had walked into the balloon and was trapped inside as it floated up to 7,000 feet in the air!
A frantic rescue operation took place that involved military helicopters and briefly shut down the Denver International Airport!
The boy’s father, Richard Heeney, said the family was tinkering with the balloon Thursday and that he scolded Falcon, the young boy who’d been presumed missing, for getting inside a compartment on the craft. He said Falcon’s brother had seen him inside the compartment before it took off and that’s why they thought he was in there when it launched.
But the boy fled to the attic at some point after the scolding and was never in the balloon during its two-hour, 50-mile journey through two counties. “I yelled at him. I’m really sorry I yelled at him,” Heene said as he hugged his son during a news conference.
“I was in the attic and he scared me because he yelled at me,” Falcon said. “That’s why I went in the attic.”
The balloon looks a bit like a flying saucer. It tipped precariously a few times before it eventually glided to the ground in a field. When the child wasn’t found inside the balloon or near it’s place of landing investigators began searching the balloons path. Apparently several people had reported seeing something fall from the craft while it was in the air, so I presume the searchers thought that the boy had fallen out of the balloon.
Apparently the boys parents are Storm Chasers and “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,”.
While the balloon was airborne, Colorado Army National Guard sent a UH-58 Kiowa helicopter and was preparing to send a Black Hawk UH-60 to try to rescue the boy, possibly by lowering someone to the balloon. They also were working with pilots of ultralight aircraft on the possibility of putting weights on the homemade craft to weigh it down.
It wasn’t immediately clear how much the search operation cost. Capt. Troy Brown said the Black Hawk helicopter was in the air for nearly three hours, and the Kiowa helicopter was airborne for about one hour. The Black Hawk costs about $4,600 an hour to fly, and the Kiowa is $700 an hour, Brown said.
While the balloon was afloat and rescue operations were underway the FAA canceled all northbound takeoffs between 1 pm and 1:15 pm (the balloon was about 15 miles northwest of the airport in that time period). Prior to the departure shutdown, controllers had been vectoring planes taking off in that direction away from the balloon.