10 years ago today, the ‘balloon boy’ hoax captivated America


FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Ten years ago Tuesday, the world watched as a balloon feared to be carrying a 6-year-old boy floated over northern Colorado. As it turned out, the whole thing was a hoax.

Around 11 a.m. on October 15, 2009, emergency crews began chasing a homemade balloon made by Richard and Mayumi Heene. The parents told authorities their 6-year-old son, Falcon, was inside the balloon, which ended up soaring for nearly two hours. When the balloon finally landed in a field east of Denver International Airport, Falcon was nowhere to be found.

Later that afternoon, the boy was found in an attic over the garage of his parents’ home. He had never been inside the balloon.

In an interview with CNN, Falcon said the family had manufactured the stunt for a show.

Richard Heene eventually pled guilty to attempt to influence a public servant, which is a felony. He was sentenced to 90 days in custody. His wife, Mayumi Heene, pled guilty to misdemeanor false reporting and was sentenced to 20 days in jail.

5280 Magazine caught up with the Heene family at their home in New York last month. Read the story here.


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