Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Balloon Boy Spills the Beans

On Oct. 15, the U.S. sat transfixed as a silver Mylar balloon, believed to contain 6-year-old Falcon Heene, soared out of control through the skies above Fort Collins, Colo. Falcon's father Richard Heene, an amateur storm chaser and aspiring reality-TV star, told authorities that his son had accidentally climbed inside the balloon, which the family had been constructing in the backyard, and set it aloft. After the balloon touched down — empty — near Colorado Springs and Falcon was discovered hiding in the attic of the family's home, skeptics were quick to suggest that the Heenes had purposely unleashed the balloon and concocted the tale to kindle publicity for a reality-TV series they were gearing up to pitch. The plot was undone by Falcon's candor in a surreal appearance on CNN's Larry King Live. When fill-in anchor Wolf Blitzer asked the boy why he'd hid, Falcon turned to his parents and mumbled, "You guys said we did it for the show." The scam soon unraveled, much to the chagrin of the Heenes and of peeved Colorado authorities, who spent more than $60,000 chasing the craft. On Nov. 13, Richard Heene pleaded guilty to attempting to influence a public official, while his wife copped to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false report.