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MidtownGuy
October 15th, 2009, 04:33 PM
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Boy In Balloon: 6-Year-Old Heene Child Floats Away In "Homemade Flying Saucer"


Helium Balloon Lands Without Boy Inside

By Liz Robbins (http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/author/liz-robbins/) The tale of the experimental helium air balloon sailing above the Colorado plains for two hours on Thursday afternoon captivated the nation, and it had as many twists and turns as the strange flight. Follow the developments on The Lede blog.

Update | 4:17 p.m.
The Denver Post ran a 2007 feature (http://www.denverpost.com/extremes/ci_6530596)on Richard Heene, describing him as an “amateur scientist” and a storm chaser who works with a former television meteorologist Scott Stevens for The Science Detectives.
According to the profile, he has three sons, Ryo and Bradford are the older brothers of Falcon. Mr. Heene is married to Mayumi Heene.

Update | 3:59 p.m. Falcon Heene was not found in the balloon, and now officials say there is a possibility that Falcon might be hiding in his Fort Collins neighborhood, in fear of recriminations.
“That’s good news and that’s bad news,” Mr. Nilsson, the Larimer County emergency manager, said in a telephone interview. “He was no longer in danger from a balloon crash. The bad news is we don’t know where he is.”
Mr. Nilsson said that dozens of law enforcement officers were searching for the 6-year-old boy in his neighborhood. “I am hoping the scenario is that he is scared of punishment and does not want to be found,” he said.

Update | 3:42 p.m. At 11 a.m. Mountain time, Falcon Heene, the 6-year-old son of Richard Heene, was thought to have lifted off in his father’s helium balloon. After flying for more than two hours, the half-deflated aircraft landed in an empty field.
But when the balloon landed, the boy was not in the balloon, deepening the mystery.

Update | 3:32 p.m. Cathy Davis of the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department told reporters the balloon was owned by the boy’s parents and tethered behind the family’s home. She said two sons were playing outside when the older boy saw the younger one go into a compartment at the bottom of the balloon and fly away.

Update | 3:24 p.m. According to Eloise Campanella, a Larimer County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman, the father’s name is Richard Heene, and his son’s name is Falcon. Mr. Heene works as a storm chaser, featured in this video (http://www.thesciencedetective.com/).

Update | 3:15 p.m. Erik Nilsson, the Larimer County emergency manager, said in an interview that officials might have to shoot the balloon to expedite a landing and prevent the child from getting hypothermia inside the small passenger compartment. He has been flying for more than two hours.


The balloon was drifting in winds approximately 20 miles an hour, but was never intended to go into the air, Mr. Nilsson said. It was tethered loosely in the backyard.


According to Mr. Nilsson, the parents called the police about 30 minutes after they realized that the balloon had launched, possibly with their son inside the 3-foot by 3-foot compartment. The box attached to the 7-foot-long by 20-feet-wide balloon — shaped like a container of Jiffy Pop popcorn — is made of plywood that would not be strong enough to sustain any kind of impact.


“We can’t get this thing down,” Mr. Nilsson said. “We may end up having to breach the balloon, possibly with small arms fire.”


He added that another option would be flying a helicopter above the balloon and using the downward wind to push the balloon down.


The boy had stepped into the silver balloon shaped like a flying saucer at his family’s home near Fort Collins, Colo. around 11 a.m. local time. According to MSNBC (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33330516/ns/us_news-life/), the balloon was not tethered and it launched unpredictably.

The Denver Post (http://www.denverpost.com/ci_13568863) reported that there were four sheriff’s cars following the balloon along with a television news helicopter as the balloon pitched and rolled. Similar balloons can fly as high as 10,000 feet.

lofter1
October 15th, 2009, 04:52 PM
Sadly, it now seems that young Falcon Heene has gone the way of Amelia Earhart.

Ninjahedge
October 15th, 2009, 05:07 PM
Geez, I hope he is hiding, and not, well, dead somewhere along the route before it was being tracked......

This was not deliberate negligence, but OMG, you had a large baloon like that in your back yard with a 6 year old around it?

This is NOT the right way to learn a lesson. :(

MidtownGuy
October 15th, 2009, 05:14 PM
I shudder to think at the terror that little boy was feeling as the balloon rose higher and higher. :eek:

scumonkey
October 15th, 2009, 06:10 PM
CNN is now reporting that the boy is alive and well.
He did not go up with the balloon
he was in a box in the garage ;)

ZippyTheChimp
October 15th, 2009, 06:13 PM
Photos (http://photos.denverpost.com/photogalleries/coloradoimages/#num=1417768&id=album-71788)

Daquan13
October 15th, 2009, 11:16 PM
But the little boy said something on TV that put his mom & dad in some hot water!

He said that he was afraid that his dad might yell at him, and that the whole thing with the balloon was a show. So the parents could be in trouble with the authorities and could be hauled in for questioning by the law.

lofter1
October 16th, 2009, 12:28 AM
And then Dad changed the subject, really fast ...

Daquan13
October 16th, 2009, 02:27 AM
Yes he did.

The reporter had said that he plans to have a stern talk with the kids.

It's not their fault, it's HIS.

Ninjahedge
October 16th, 2009, 09:18 AM
Hmmmm, if dady was faking this from the start, he should be "talked to". Otehrwise I am just glad that the kid is OK.....

Daquan13
October 16th, 2009, 09:58 AM
Yes I'm happy that the boy didn't become another statistic in the hands of harm's way.

But I think that his dad is hiding something that might shed some light on this whole thing. :confused:

NYatKNIGHT
October 16th, 2009, 10:38 AM
Knowing that the balloon family twice appeared on Wife Swap you have to question what they wouldn't do for publicity.

Jasonik
October 16th, 2009, 12:08 PM
I don't think this "transcript (http://newburningtiger.blogspot.com/2009/10/infallible-ems-dispatch-gets-balloon.html)" is accurate, but... :D

Operator 1: “911, What is your emergency?”

Caller: “My 6 year-old son just drifted away in a helium balloon!”

Operator 1:“Can I have your phone number in case we get disconnected?”

Caller: “Yes, its 555-1234.” Oh, please, I don’t know what to do! It’s starting to drift away!”

Operator 1: “You say your son is floating away in a balloon?”

Caller: “Yes!”

Operator 1: “Hmm, I don’t see that in any of the emergency dispatch responses in the computer. Hold on a second.”
To Operator 2: “Hey, this lady says her kid’s floating away in a balloon! Where is that in the computer?”

Operator 2: “Kid in a balloon? (scrolling through computer choices) I don’t see that either. Just go with “Generalized Weakness.”

Operator 1: “OK ma’am, I have it now. Is he conscious and breathing?”

Caller: “I guess so, he just climbed into the balloon. I can’t really see him right now. He’s a thousand feet overhead. Please send help!”

Operator 1: “I’ll send someone out. Is his breathing normal?”

Caller: “What? I don’t know! He’s breathing HELIUM!”

Operator 1: “Is he having any chest pain?”

Caller: “Are you kidding me? He’s in a freaking balloon!”

Operator 1: “I understand you’re anxious ma’am, but I need you to try and stay calm. I need you to answer my questions so we can get the proper response crews to you.”

Caller: (calming down) “OK, I’ll try. Please send someone; the balloon is drifting out of sight!”

Operator 1: “How old is he? Does he have any medical problems?”

Caller: “Six. And no, he’s perfectly healthy.”

Operator 1: “How long has he felt weak?”

Caller: “Weak? What are you talking about? Haven’t you been listening? He climbed into an experimental balloon I was building with my husband and it drifted away with him inside it?”

Operator 1: “Oh that’s right. Sorry, I’m trying to use the computer script for ‘Generalized Weakness.’”

Caller: “WHAT?”

Operator 1: “So the balloon drifted away with your 6 year-old husband and he’s feeling weak?”

Caller: “Oh my God!”

Operator 1: “OK ma’am, the ambulance is on its way. Do you want me to stay on the line till they arrive?”

Caller: “An ambulance? Why are you sending an ambulance? He’s in a freaking BALLOON! Thousands of feet in the air! What is an ambulance going to do?”

Operator 1: “Ma’am I need you to try to stay calm so I can send the proper response crews…”

Caller: “Oh sweet Jesus! Never mind, I’ll call CNN!” (Click)

Operator 1 to Operator 2: “What a bitch! Some people just don’t know how to speak to another human being.”

Operator 2: “So she canceled the call?”

Operator 1: “Yeah. Says she’s gonna call CNN. Freak. Like they’d be interested.”

Operator 2: “Hmph!”

NYatKNIGHT
October 16th, 2009, 04:21 PM
^Funny!

This from a NY Times article (http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/16/authorities-investigating-family-for-possible-balloon-hoax/?hp):

...Audio of the family’s 911 call, released on Friday afternoon, seemed to raise new questions about the bizarre incident.

The 911 operator did not even do an audible double-take, but kept asking questions about how long the “flying saucer” has been gone and whether it had “any kind of a tracking device” on board.

“We’re looking around the house,” Ms. Heene said.

Mayumi Heene then handed the phone to her husband, Richard. When the operator asked him if his son knew how to operate the flying saucer, Mr. Heene replied “no.”

She asked if he was sure his son was in the device. Mr. Heene then said in a frantic voice: “We looked everywhere.” He then referred to 10-year-old Bradford, his oldest son. “My son said he went inside just before it went off. We had it tethered. It wasn’t supposed to take off. We were testing it to find out what affect we could get.”

Mr. Heene then told the operator that there was a possibility that if his son were inside, he could be in danger because for one minute, in a five-minute cycle, the balloon “emits a million volts on the outer skin.”

He said he was also concerned about an aircraft hitting the balloon.
The operator asked him about the appearance of the flying saucer. “It’s silver?”

Mr. Heene answered, in what has become the understatement of the week:

“It’s got aluminum foil, it’s hard to miss.”

At a news conference in Fort Collins on Friday, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said that the 911 call was not the first call the Heene family made. The first was to the Federal Aviation Administration. The second was to the local NBC affiliate.

“I find it odd,” Mr. Alderden admitted.

In the lengthy news conference, Mr. Alderden said his investigators on the scene believed the Heene family, and that their initial grief was real. But the interview on CNN Thursday night where Falcon said the reason he hid so long was “for the show,” changed the investigation.
...


What we know: one, the Dad believes in UFO's, and two, created a balloon that looks just like a flying saucer.

Ninjahedge
October 16th, 2009, 04:55 PM
Mr. Heene then told the operator that there was a possibility that if his son were inside, he could be in danger because for one minute, in a five-minute cycle, the balloon “emits a million volts on the outer skin.”


Whaaaaat?

You do not "emit" volts. Volts are a measure of EM potential. You can emit AMPS of power at a VOLTAGE, not VOLTS.

I hate Scientific idjits. Even if he WAS joking, he should get his shizzzzzzznit right. I mean, we gotta think of the KIDS!!!! :rolleyes:

lofter1
October 16th, 2009, 05:07 PM
Ninj: Have you heard Heene's description of the saucer / craft and it's batteries / electrical properties in regard to navigating the vehicle?

If so, I'm curious about the probability / possibility that it was viable.

Daquan13
October 17th, 2009, 05:36 AM
I didn't know that the boy got sick and that he vomited a few times during that interview, until I watched it again.

They had to stop a few times to allow the boy to regain his composure. This jerk was trying to pull off a hoax, not realising how traunatic that this might have been for his son!

Now I'm wondering if the boy was even TOLD by his dad to go hide in the house to make it appear as though he "disappeared and couldn't be found". I found it to be awfully strange for his parents to supposedly not know just where the boy was until sometime later.

They had practically the whole country on pins and needles and thinking that the boy was in that balloon, thinking that the worst might have happened to him!

I think that the boy was the center of a cruel and inexusable joke that had apparently gone sour! :(

ZippyTheChimp
October 17th, 2009, 09:57 AM
If so, I'm curious about the probability / possibility that it was viable.

I'm surprised someone didn't work this out and call it in:

The craft was described as 20 ft across and 5 feet high. Its shape is an oblate spheroid (an ellipsoid with 2 radii equal). The formula for volume is:

V = 4/3 x pi x A x B x C

V = 4/3 x 3.1416 x 10 x 10 x 2.5

V = 1047.2 cubic feet.

Lifting power of helium is .067 lbs per cubic foot. Total lifting power of the craft is 70 lbs. Average weight of a 6 year old boy is 45-50 lbs.

That leaves 25 lbs. The weight of the balloon material and the gondola is...what?

Daquan13
October 17th, 2009, 11:48 AM
Here's a pic of the family and the runaway balloon.

nycla3
October 17th, 2009, 12:47 PM
Here's a pic of the family and the runaway balloon.

Thanks, it wasn't shown on any of the news outlets. Must have been hard to find.

Fabrizio
October 17th, 2009, 01:57 PM
Yes thanks for the pics of the family and the ballon. I have been in a cave for the last few days.

HoveringCheesecake
October 17th, 2009, 02:49 PM
I'm surprised someone didn't work this out and call it in:

The craft was described as 20 ft across and 5 feet high. Its shape is an oblate spheroid (an ellipsoid with 2 radii equal). The formula for volume is:

V = 4/3 x pi x A x B x C

V = 4/3 x 3.1416 x 10 x 10 x 2.5

V = 1047.2 cubic feet.

Lifting power of helium is .067 lbs per cubic foot. Total lifting power of the craft is 70 lbs. Average weight of a 6 year old boy is 45-50 lbs.

That leaves 25 lbs. The weight of the balloon material and the gondola is...what?

Apparently the compartment part was made out of cardboard, so I'd say the weight of that was negligible - but that means the family had to have known it couldn't have supported a child. And even if it did, was it separate from the helium chamber or not? Hell they even have video of the stupid thing lifting off and the dad throwing a fit. It looks like a publicity stunt all the way.

At least we got to hear someone let out a fart on the Larry King interview and then see the kid throw up twice during a live Today Show interview.

Daquan13
October 17th, 2009, 05:05 PM
Thanks, it wasn't shown on any of the news outlets. Must have been hard to find.



You're welcome.

I had just Googled it. Looks like something from a '50s sci-fi flick. :)

nycla3
October 17th, 2009, 05:10 PM
heh-heh.

Daquan, you're the best....don't ever change.

Fabrizio
October 17th, 2009, 05:44 PM
So what happened to the kid when the thing crashed... did he die?


(ok, shoot me)

OmegaNYC
October 17th, 2009, 08:49 PM
I'm getting sick of this "Ballon boy" story. If I could find a way to string up the father on that ballon and get away with it, trust me, I would. :cool:

lofter1
October 17th, 2009, 10:11 PM
Better get used to it, looks like it's not going away ...

[ You can always check this out (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?p=242458&) if you need a change of pace ;) ]

Exclusive: I Helped Richard Heene Plan a Balloon Hoax

GAWKER (http://gawker.com/5383858/exclusive-i-helped-richard-heene-plan-a-balloon-hoax)

For the first time, 25-year-old researcher Robert Thomas reveals to Gawker how earlier this year he and Richard Heene drew up a master plan to generate a massive media controversy using a weather balloon. To get famous, of course.

Thomas spent several months earlier this year working on developing a reality science TV show to pitch to networks — the "show," Thomas says, that Falcon was referring to when he told CNN "We did it for the show." (http://gawker.com/5382890/balloon-boy-we-did-this-for-the-show) Among the ideas that Heene, Thomas and two others came up with for their reality TV proposal — and one that he says most intrigued Heene — involved a weather balloon modified to look like a UFO which they would launch in an attempt to drum up media interest in both the Heene family and the series he was desperate to get on the air. Still, Thomas never imagined that Heene would involve his six-year-old son in what he is certain was a "global media hoax" to further Richard Heene's own celebrity. Thomas' story of his time with Heene, based on an interview with Ryan Tate, follows below. It's a fascinating account and after he publicly offered to sell his story (http://www.businessinsider.com/proof-balloon-boy-was-a-hoax-2009-10), we paid him for it.

I came to Fort Collins for school — Colorado State University. I was a Web entrepreneur, starting a few small companies that evolved into a larger scale project called Extropedia.org, an open source online encyclopedia for advancing humanity through technology and science.

Doing research for the project on Google and YouTube, I stumbled upon Richard Heene and his video series Psyience Detectives (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXHHjoGmExw). I was surprised to find this potential collaborator in the small city of Fort Collins. Since a very young age, I've been fascinated with electromagnetics, applied physics and how technologies developed out of those concepts could that change the world. Richard was studying basically the same thing. He asserted, for example, that tornadoes and hurricanes are not a result of changes in pressure but of magnetic polarity changes within the Earth.

I sent him an email in March, talking about Extropedia, a web site I founed and hope to re-launch soon. (Click here to read some of Thomas' email exchanges with the Heene family (http://gawker.com/5383866/introductory-emails-between-richard-heene-and-robert-thomas)). Things progressed. Soon I was dropping in unannounced, having dinner. I'd bring various patents from the 50s and 60s that showcased technologies far more advanced than what we use today, and we discussed why they weren't being used. That was when Richard first started telling me about his conspiracy theories — which would eventually reveal themselves to be both extreme and paranoid.

Hunger for Stardom

There was something else at work, though. Oddly enough, Richard's sampling of stardom from being on Wife Swap — twice — gave him a sense of seniority in our scientific conversations. They became less and less about what I had to contribute and more and more about what Richard wanted.

And he wanted nothing more than to get another reality TV series. Richard had an ongoing dialog with someone at ABC who helped produce Wife Swap. Richard was pitching something along the lines of "MythBusters (http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/mythbusters/mythbusters.html)-meets-mad scientist." There would be these esoteric abstract experiments attempting to prove or disprove various theories. My job was to help him prepare a formal proposal. For each of 52 weekly episodes, to explain specifically what the subject would be, and why. (See the full proposal here (http://gawker.com/5383859/abc-reality-series-proposal-from-richard-heene-and-rob-thomas).)

As the days progressed I became basically a stenographer. Richard was very hyperactive, and I would type out his ideas as quickly as I could. It was five hours of us brainstorming, or really Richard pouring his ideas out, then an additional ten hours of me taking his thoughts, cleaning them up, and making them linear and easier to understand. I would hyperlink the various scientific theories he mentioned for the people at ABC. I was to be paid $15 per hour, per a verbal agreement. More crucially, if and when and the reality series and was picked up by ABC, I would be one of his lead research assistants on the show.

I was very receptive to the idea of filtering esoteric science for the general population. A show would allow us to take the TV network's money and use it to fund real experimentation, to buy equipment unavailable to me as a student and an entrepreneur. We could experiment with electromagetics, crystal formation and new types of materials.

Richard, on the other hand, was often driven by ego and fame. He was all about controversy, hoping to whip up something significant enough to eliminate our reality TV competitors. He wanted episodes that would shock people and maximize his exposure. And he'd been trying for months. On several occasions, he sat down and told me he'd do whatever it took to make it happen — to win. He eventually resorted to extreme measures.

The UFO Idea (And the End of the World As We Know It in 2012)

One night, when Richard and I were sitting and talking, he brought up Wife Swap, and specifically a confrontation he had with a woman on the show who claimed to be a psychic. They very much disliked one other. Richard said, "Well, think about it. We were the 100th episode of Wife Swap. And why are we the most recognized Wife Swap family and episode? It's because of the controversy. I don't care what people say about me as a person, but the fact of the matter is that they know who I am."

And then we delved into the area of UFOs. I was reading a book on witness reports of Roswell at the time, just out of curiousity — I've never concluded whether it really took place or was an elaborate hoax. And Richard said, "how much do you want to bet we could facilitate some sort of a media stunt that would be equally profound as Roswell, and we could do so with nothing more than a weather balloon and some controversy?" (See item 16 here (http://gawker.com/5383859/abc-reality-series-proposal-from-richard-heene-and-rob-thomas#ufo).)


Can we attract UFO's with a homemade flying saucer? We will modify a weather balloon, so that it resembles a UFO and will electrically charge the skin of the craft (Biefield-Brown Effect). We will capture the footage on film, and will utilize the media as a means with which to make our presence known to the masses. This will not only provide us with incredible footage, but will also generate a tremendous amount of controversy among the public, as well as publicity within the mainstream media. This will be the most significant UFO-related news event to take place since the Roswell Crash of 1947, and the result will be a dramatic increase in local and national awareness about The Heene Family, our Reality Series, as well as the UFO Phenomenon in general.

I clearly remember Richard telling me that, if we accomplish this, it would be the most controversial and widespread UFO news story since Roswell in 1947. (See audio at top of post.)

But he was motivated by theories I thought were far-fetched. Like Reptilians (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reptilian_humanoid) — the idea there are alien beings that walk among us and are shape shifters, able to resemble human beings and running the upper echelon of our government. Somehow a secret government has covered all this up since the U.S. was established, and the only way to get the truth out there was to use the mainstream media to raise Richard to a status of celebrity, so he could communicate with the masses.

As the weeks progressed, his theories got more and more extreme and paranoid. A lot of it surrounded 2012, and the possibility of there being an apocalyptic moment. Richard likes to talk a lot about the possibility of the Sun erupting in a large-scale solar flare that wipes out the Earth. It got to the point where he was really pressing me, saying we're running out of time, we're running out of time, the end of the world is coming. And we have to take necessary precautions to make sure that we're not among the majority that's going to be killed.

It got to the point where I was just nodding my head and going along with what he said, because it was easier than trying to debate with him. (See audio at bottom of post.)

Falcon's Fishy Flight Incident

When my friends called me about the whole balloon episode I was working. I had just moved to a new place and didn't have my television set up. I probably would never even have heard about this, except that a good friend of mine remembered me telling him about Richard several months ago. He told me, "Rob, you need to turn on the tv immediately! That Richard guy you worked with just pulled a massive publicity stunt!"

Richard's story doesn't add up. He is saying he thought Falcon was in the balloon, and that Falcon ran and hid as a result of Richard yelling at him. I've spent a lot of time with them, and Falcon is, first of all, not afraid of his father. I've never once seen Richard's children afraid of him — and I've definitely never seen Falcon go hide. He was one of the most social of the three children.

Secondly, Falcon supposedly hid in that attic in the garage. I've spent a lot of time in his garage, which has a drill press and various welding tools. It's unorganized and chaotic. There's really not so much an attic as some support beams connected with plywood. Being an adult of average height, I couldn't get up into the attic if I'd wanted to, so I don't know how a six-year-old child could have gotten up there. There's not an easy way to access that overhang. Maybe if I'd lifted that child up into the attic, he might have been able to rest up there, but not comfortably.

My doubts and concerns about that story were verified when Falcon's parents asked him on CNN, "why didn't you come out?" And Falcon said, "you guys said we did this for the show (http://gawker.com/5382890/balloon-boy-we-did-this-for-the-show)." Lights went off in my head. Bells were ringing; whistles were whistling. I said, "Wow, Richard is using his children as pawns to facilitate a global media hoax that's going to give him enough publicity to temporarily attract A-list celebrity status and hopefully attract a network."

The Price of Desperation

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I think in this case the desperation was too much for Richard to bear. Richard's construction business wasn't doing too well. It's hard to find people interested in spending money on the aesthetics of their home when they're worried about their mortgage.

A lot of the work I did with the Heene family related to passing out fliers, putting them on people's front doors. The fliers advertised a roofing business and a general handyman business. As the months progressed, Richard's paranoia increased exponentially and my paycheck decreased exponentially. The work I put in for the ABC proposal was never compensated. Richard implied he didn't have the money to pay me. But he would always reassure me, "It's all going to pay off in the end."

But, in "the end," Richard didn't think about the implications of his behavior. He certainly didn't consider the people that were praying for his child, and the hundreds, maybe thousands of people that were inconvenienced in pursuit of this balloon. The thousands of dollars of taxpayer money spent on things that weren't necessary.

Bluntly, I think Richard's ego blinds him to his brilliance. The only thing inhibiting him from progressing is a steadfast determination to become famous and live a Hollywood lifestyle. Someone needs to slap him in the face and say, "Wake up! This is not what's important." He has an amazing family that has already been subject to a tremendous amount of criticism. I especially feel bad for Falcon. He's going to be known as Balloon Boy the rest of his life. That's not something you want to tell a girl on the first date.

For me, it's been quite the experience. I don't regret any of it. I learned a lot from Richard. Not necessarily what I should do but rather what I should not do, in my career path and in my goals. It allowed me to question, "What do I find of value in the world?" And I was led to the conclusion that the only thing that matters to me is my friends and family and loved ones. Everything else is details. If the world were going to end tomorrow, like a lot of Richard's theories on 2012, who would you go to? Would you go to a bunch of investors for some company or a reality show? Or would you go to your family and friends?

Here are two audio clips from Ryan's interview with Thomas: LINK (http://gawker.com/5383858/exclusive-i-helped-richard-heene-plan-a-balloon-hoax)

lofter1
October 17th, 2009, 10:18 PM
Sheriff: Charges to be filed in balloon saga

Victim advocate enters home; earlier, dad denies any hoax

MSNBC (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33340547/ns/us_news-life/)
updated 10 minutes ago

FORT COLLINS. Colo. - A sheriff said Saturday that his office will file criminal charges in the case of a 6-year-old boy who vanished into the rafters of his garage while the world thought he was zooming through the sky in a flying saucer-like helium balloon.

After the boy's parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene, met with sheriff's officials for much of the afternoon, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden didn't say who would be charged or what the charges would be, but he did say the parents spoke to investigators voluntarily and weren't under arrest.

Alderden previously said that if the balloon ordeal was a hoax, the parents could be charged with making a false report to authorities, a low-level misdemeanor.

"We were looking at Class 3 misdemeanor, which hardly seems serious enough given the circumstances," Alderden said Saturday. "We are talking to the district attorney, federal officials to see if perhaps there aren't additional federal charges that are appropriate in this circumstance."

He said deputies were seeking a search warrant for the family's home, and there would be more information at a news conference Sunday.

‘Big announcement’

The strange day began with Richard Heene knocking on the windows of journalists camped outside his home and promising a "big announcement." A few hours later, he did an about-face when he told reporters that they should leave questions in a cardboard box on the front doorstep.

As Heene walked away, a reporter shouted, "Can you tell us once and for all if this is a hoax?"

"Absolutely no hoax. I want your questions in the box," Heene said, waving a cardboard container before going back into his home.

A circus-like atmosphere formed outside, including men holding signs and occasionally yelling "balloon boy." One sign read, "Put balloon boy on TV: America's Most Wanted."

Other gawkers carried aluminum-foil stovetop popcorn makers that resembled the silvery balloon launched from the family's backyard Thursday, with Falcon believed to be onboard.

While Richard and Mayumi Heene were at the sheriff's office, the couple's three sons remained home, apparently being watched by sheriff's officials. Authorities wouldn't comment on what was happening.

Interview raises suspicion

Alderden had said that he wanted to re-interview the family after Falcon told CNN that "you said we did this for a show" when asked why he didn't come out of his hiding place. Then Falcon got sick during two separate TV interviews when asked why he hid.

The balloon was supposed to be tethered to the ground when it lifted off, and no one was supposed to be aboard. A video of the launch shows the family counting down in unison, "3, 2, 1," before Richard Heene pulls a cord, setting the balloon into the air.

"Whoa!" one of the boys exclaims. Then his father says in disbelief, "Oh, my God!" He then says to someone, "You didn't put the (expletive) tether down!" and he kicks the wood frame that had held the balloon.

Falcon's brother said he saw him inside the compartment before it took off and that's why they thought he was in there when it launched. Heene said he had yelled at Falcon before the launch for getting inside.

Alderden said earlier that he thinks it's likely that Falcon ran off because he was scared of getting in trouble, later falling asleep in his hiding spot. He said he doubted that such a hyperactive boy could be ordered to stay quiet for the five hours he was missing.

On ‘Wife Swap’

Over the years, Richard Heene has worked as a storm chaser, a handyman and contractor, and an aspiring reality-TV star.

He and his family appeared on the ABC reality show "Wife Swap," and the show's producer said it had a show in development with the Heenes but the deal is now off. TLC also said Heene had pitched a reality show to the network months ago, but it passed on the offer.

Despite his attempts to get on TV, Heene insisted Saturday that he didn't know what kinds of questions were being asked about him because he didn't have cable.

"I'm going to place the box out front. Please write your questions down, because friends are telling me they're saying this and that. I have no idea what the news is saying," Heene said.

© 2009 The Associated Press.

OmegaNYC
October 18th, 2009, 02:27 PM
Colorado sheriff: Runaway balloon saga was hoax

http://l.yimg.com/a/i/us/nws/p/ap_logo_106.png
http://d.yimg.com/a/p/ap/20091018/capt.a2e4797add3a47f7995ee5b15e0e2acd.balloon_boy_ cowp101.jpg?x=213&y=227&xc=1&yc=1&wc=384&hc=409&q=85&sig=oOqRomb_McHdhkog8jxoLA-- (http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/Larimer-County-Sheriff-Department-officers-remove-several-boxes-and-computer/photo//091018/480/a2e4797add3a47f7995ee5b15e0e2acd//s:/ap/us_balloon_boy)
AP – Larimer County Sheriff Department officers remove several boxes and a computer while executing a search …




By DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer Dan Elliott, Associated Press Writer – 6 mins ago

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – A Colorado sheriff said Sunday it was a hoax when parents reported that their 6-year-old son was in a flying saucer-like helium balloon hurtling away from their home.
Sheriff Jim Alderden said Richard and Mayumi Heene "put on a very good
show for us, and we bought it."

"We believe that we have evidence at this point to indicate that it was a publicity stunt done with the hopes of marketing themselves or better marketing themselves for a reality television show at some point in the future," Alderden said.
The sheriff said no charges had been filed yet, and the parents weren't under arrest. He said he expected to recommend charges of conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, making a false report to authorities and attempting to influence a public servant.

Some of the most serious charges each carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Alderden said all three of the Heenes' sons knew of the Thursday hoax, but likely won't face charges because of their ages. The oldest son is 10. One of the boys told investigators he saw his brother get in the balloon's box before it launched.

Alderden said 6-year-old Falcon may not have even been in the rafters in the garage, as originally reported, based on where the investigators were when the boy entered the house.
"For all we know he may have been two blocks down the road playing on the swing in the city park," he said.

Heene, a storm chaser and inventor, and his family have appeared on the reality show "Wife Swap." Alderden said the couple met in acting school in Hollywood.
Alderden said interviews with the parents Saturday resulted in enough information to get a warrant to search the house. He said they were looking for computers, e-mails, phone records and financial records.
Alderden said the children were still with the parents Sunday morning, and child protective services had been contacted to investigate the children's well-being.

The sheriff initially said there was no reason to believe the incident was a hoax. Authorities questioned the Heenes again after Falcon turned to his dad during a CNN interview Thursday night and said what sounded like "you said we did this for a show" when asked why he didn't come out of his hiding place.

Falcon got sick during two separate TV interviews Friday when asked again why he hid.
A Colorado State University physics professor, using dimensions given by Richard Heene, had told sheriff's officials as they were tracking the balloon Thursday that it was plausible for it to lift off with 37-pound Falcon inside.
Once the device landed, sheriff's officials discovered it was made with plastic tarps taped together and covered with aluminum foil, with a utility box made of a very thin piece of plywood, cardboard on the side, held together with string and duct tape, Alderden said.

Using the true dimensions, the professor determined it could not have launched with the boy inside, Alderden said.

lofter1
October 18th, 2009, 05:01 PM
... all three of the Heenes' sons knew of the Thursday hoax, but likely won't face charges because of their ages ...


On the CNN / Larry King Show interview of the family it's really apparent that the two older boys knew they were all busted when young Falcon spilled the beans (and pretty darned clear they weren't too comfy with being put on the spot even before that telling moment).




Heene, a storm chaser and inventor, and his family have appeared on the reality show "Wife Swap." Alderden said the couple met in acting school in Hollywood.


Sheesh ... Giving show biz types a bad name (as if that was needed).

Defense lawyer: Blame it on LA.

lofter1
October 18th, 2009, 05:08 PM
I haven't found any article citing the actual dimensions of the Heene-HoverCraft. Please post if found (then Zip can re-work his calculations, which I assume are based upon the numbers supplied by less-than-honest Mr. Heene) ...




I'm surprised someone didn't work this out and call it in:

The craft was described as 20 ft across and 5 feet high. Its shape is an oblate spheroid (an ellipsoid with 2 radii equal). The formula for volume is:

V = 4/3 x pi x A x B x C

V = 4/3 x 3.1416 x 10 x 10 x 2.5

V = 1047.2 cubic feet.

Lifting power of helium is .067 lbs per cubic foot. Total lifting power of the craft is 70 lbs. Average weight of a 6 year old boy is 45-50 lbs.

That leaves 25 lbs. The weight of the balloon material and the gondola is...what?




A Colorado State University physics professor, using dimensions given by Richard Heene, had told sheriff's officials as they were tracking the balloon Thursday that it was plausible for it to lift off with 37-pound Falcon inside.

Once the device landed, sheriff's officials discovered it was made with plastic tarps taped together and covered with aluminum foil, with a utility box made of a very thin piece of plywood, cardboard on the side, held together with string and duct tape, Alderden said.

Using the true dimensions, the professor determined it could not have launched with the boy inside, Alderden said.

ZippyTheChimp
October 18th, 2009, 11:59 PM
http://online.wsj.com/media/richardheene_D_20091018200553.jpg
"Dang! I shoulda learnt that cipherin' "

Ninjahedge
October 19th, 2009, 09:54 AM
Ninj: Have you heard Heene's description of the saucer / craft and it's batteries / electrical properties in regard to navigating the vehicle?

If so, I'm curious about the probability / possibility that it was viable.

Regardless Loft.

YOU CANNOT EMIT VOLTS. It is physically impossible. It is like walking 400 horsepower, or jumping 10 gallons.

Voltage is a measure of EM potential, NOT actual energy. You emit AMPS AT a certain voltage, NOT volts themselves. THAT is what makes me believe there is some BS going on.

Ninjahedge
October 19th, 2009, 10:06 AM
It did not hit me when I saw it, but the balloon itself does not LOOK right. It does not look like it CAN hold a 40 lb cargo, and it does not look like it is.

They say the base is cardboard, yet it is not deformed by the kids weight (which would be apparent with a shiny surface like that). It is possible that they used several layers in laminate, but you would STILL have some sort of bump or bulge, the bottom looked flat.

The fabric does not look like it is being pulled by the cargo compartment at all. They may have some ballast there, but not enough to distend/distort the balloon.

Also, if I remember right, didn't they say they waited 30 minutes BEFORE calling the cops? I am sorry, but if I thought my kid was in there I would call IMMEDIATELY and apologize later if I found him in the bathroom or something.

These guys are real pieces of ...work.

Daquan13
October 19th, 2009, 12:28 PM
Child abuse charges are now being considered to be filed against the couple because they've involved the 3 boys in with this planned hoax.

ZippyTheChimp
October 19th, 2009, 12:47 PM
They say the base is cardboard, yet it is not deformed by the kids weight (which would be apparent with a shiny surface like that). It was described as cardboard with a "light" plywood base. You would need a stable base to hold the equipment that emitted those billions and billions of volts.


Also, if I remember right, didn't they say they waited 30 minutes BEFORE calling the cops?I think records show that they called 911 AFTER calling a TV or radio station.

I was wondering why in the beginning, the sheriff stated that there was no indication of fraud. I thought maybe he was embarrassed and wanted the incident to just fade away. Turns out, they were using a tactic of making the Balloon Family think they weren't under suspicion. So they go on TV, and the kid spills the beans. Haven't they heard of Art Linkletter (http://www.retrogalaxy.com/fun-games/art-linkletter.asp)?

Ninjahedge
October 19th, 2009, 01:53 PM
Maybe the Cameras were not Candid enough....

I thought Volts weighed a lot. I mean, a battery is only 1.5V, but a CAR battery is 12V!!

How much would a MILLION volts weigh??!?!?

OmegaNYC
October 19th, 2009, 02:22 PM
http://imway2fat.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/fat-lady-in-costume.jpg

Somewhere in that neighborhood? :confused:

ZippyTheChimp
October 19th, 2009, 02:57 PM
Does that F stand for Faraday?

Ninjahedge
October 19th, 2009, 04:29 PM
Fahrenheit.

She is one HOT momma. (literally).... :eek:

Daquan13
October 21st, 2009, 03:38 PM
Clips from the 911 call were released this morning on the Today Show.

The couple had made it sound very convincing, telling the 911 dispatcher that their little boy was stuck in the balloon. but sadly, the operator was fooled by the crank call.

They told the 3 boys to juin in on the prank. That right there, is child abuse! They need to pay dearly for their shenanigens! So that this type of thing doesn't happen again.

lofter1
October 21st, 2009, 05:43 PM
The word on the Rialto is that young Falcon Heene is being slated for the re-make:

http://www.movieposter.com/posters/archive/main/0/b70-319

lofter1
October 21st, 2009, 05:45 PM
And that Dad has a bio pic in the works ...

http://images.smh.com.au/2009/10/19/798136/420-richard-heene-420x0.jpg

http://thebsreport.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/moe.jpg

:cool:

Daquan13
October 22nd, 2009, 04:58 AM
He even LOOKS like Moe, come to think of it.

What a fine example he's setting for his 3 little boys, hey?! Wonder if he apolligized to them for involving them in this fiasco. :(

OmegaNYC
October 23rd, 2009, 10:28 PM
'Balloon boy' mom, Mayumi Heene, admitted to cops it was hoax: court docs

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Updated Friday, October 23rd 2009, 6:48 PM

http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2009/10/24/alg_balloon.jpg
Piscotty/Getty
Mayumi Heene, mother of the infamous 'balloon boy' who captivated the media, reportedly admited it was all a hoax, court documents state.

http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2009/10/24/amd_balloon.jpg
The balloon coverage dominated the 24-hour news channels.









The mother of the 6-year-old boy once feared missing inside a runaway helium balloon admitted the whole saga was a hoax, according to court documents released Friday.

Mayumi Heene (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mayumi+Heene) told sheriff’s deputies that she and her husband Richard “knew all along that Falcon (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Falcon+Heene) was hiding in the residence” in Fort Collins (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Fort+Collins), according to an affidavit used to get a search warrant for the home.
She allegedly told investigators the incident was a hoax meant to make them more marketable to the media.

“Mayumi described that she and Richard Heene (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Richard+Heene) devised this hoax approximately two weeks earlier.... She and Richard had instructed their three children to lie to authorities as well as the media regarding this hoax,” the affidavit said.

Richard Heene has denied a hoax. His lawyer, David Lane (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/David+Lane), said Friday he is waiting to see the evidence in the case.
“Allegations are cheap,” Lane said.

Mayumi Heene’s lawyer, Lee Christian (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Lee+Christian), was traveling and didn’t immediately respond to messages left with his office.
Larimer County (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Larimer+County) Sheriff Jim Alderden (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jim+Alderden) has said he will recommend charges against the Heenes including conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, making a false report to authorities, and attempting to influence a public servant. The most serious charges are felonies and carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

Alderden said authorities also would be seeking restitution for the costs of the balloon chase, though he didn’t provide a figure.
His office has said it will likely be next week before it forwards its findings to prosecutors to decide on charges.



These people deserve 50 lashes...

ZippyTheChimp
October 23rd, 2009, 10:59 PM
Funny how everything is the "Balloon ______." Balloon Boy, Balloon Dad, Balloon Mom, Balloon Family. Now we have the Balloon Call.

Seinfeld comes to mind. :)



FAA investigators may be focusing on balloon call

By KRISTEN WYATT (AP) – 16 hours ago

DENVER — The parents who reported last week that their 6-year-old son may have been on board a giant, runaway balloon could potentially be in more trouble with the Federal Aviation Administration for making a phone call than for setting loose the saucer-shaped craft, aviation experts say.

Most FAA rules on the release of unmanned balloons, rockets and kites don't take effect until aircraft or property are put in danger or the craft enters restricted airspace. Hobbyists don't even need a pilot's license to fly an engine-less craft weighing less than 155 pounds.

Most likely, analysts say, the FAA is focusing on a phone call it received from the boy's father, Richard Heene, who reported the out-of-control aircraft was loose.

"That's what they're going to be looking at, that call," said Joseph Gutheinz Jr., a retired Army pilot and former FAA and U.S. Department of Transportation inspector. "If this guy was calling the FAA reporting a false emergency, and that disrupted other air traffic, that would be the bigger issue here."

Richard and Mayumi Heene (HEE-nee) reported last week that their son Falcon was in the escaped balloon hurtling through the air as millions watched on live TV. The boy was later found safe at the family's Fort Collins home, and authorities say they believe the balloon scare was a hoax. The FAA is saying little about what it is investigating.

The balloon episode caused a brief disruption at Denver International Airport last week, with some planes sent to different runways as a precaution, but no flights were grounded.

If authorities determine the phone call was a hoax, the U.S. Department of Transportation could pursue a federal criminal case.

Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general for the Transportation Department, said she suspects the FAA will wait for local law enforcement to figure out whether the Heenes' reports were intentionally false.

"They have to prove intent for a criminal case," Schiavo said.

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said he expects to recommend charges including conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, making a false report to authorities, and attempting to influence a public servant. The most serious charges are felonies and carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

Alderden said authorities also would seek restitution for the costs of the balloon chase, though he didn't provide a figure.

FAA Spokeswoman Laura Brown said violating federal balloon rules could result in penalties that "could be anything from a warning letter to a civil penalty."

"There's not a lot more we can say about the investigation right now," she said.

Brown wouldn't say how long the investigation could take or what possible fines would be. The FAA typically levies large fines only against commercial airlines that break federal safety rules. Its largest fine ever was $10.2 million against Southwest Airlines last year for flying planes that had missed critical safety checks, though that fine was later reduced to $7.5 million.

Gutheinz said he doubts the FAA knows what to make of the alleged Heene hoax. Agency investigators spend most of their time reviewing large operations, not investigating kooky episodes that grab the public's attention.

"Every once in a while you get a drunk pilot, or a student flying a plane they're not supposed to fly, but nothing like this," he said. "This is just something no one's ever imagined happening."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

lofter1
October 24th, 2009, 02:46 PM
Get on board for the Balloon Divorce. Child custody arguments should be interesting ...




Mayumi Heene, mother of the infamous 'balloon boy' who captivated the media, reportedly admited it was all a hoax, court documents state ...

She and Richard had instructed their three children to lie to authorities as well as the media regarding this hoax,” the affidavit said ...

Richard Heene has denied a hoax. His lawyer, David Lane (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/David+Lane), said Friday he is waiting to see the evidence in the case. “Allegations are cheap,” Lane said.


They're gonna need a high-paying contract for a reality show in order to pay the restitution, not to mention the legal fees ...




... authorities also would be seeking restitution for the costs of the balloon chase ...

ZippyTheChimp
October 24th, 2009, 02:52 PM
Divorce?

Property settlements can get nasty. I wonder if their house has a Balloon Mortgage?




Sorry. I'll leave the thread now.

BrooklynRider
October 24th, 2009, 02:57 PM
I think that, as a country, the time has come for the goverment to step into these kind of cases as well as reality TV train wrecks.

Let us set up one day each year where America votes online for a News Headlining or Reality Show "celebrity" to be put to death by hanging or firing squad. It will be one of those "You wanted attention and you got. Now we get to vote!"

Man, we could see Carrie Prejean go or Perez Hilton. Maybe Jon or Kate. Balloon boy or his Dad. Th newlyweds of "The Best Wedding Entrance Ever". Any of the Dancing with the Stars - has beens. It would be the most exciting vote in America EVER.

lofter1
October 24th, 2009, 05:25 PM
The Ultimate Reality Show ^

Perhaps in Round One the winning dozen could be Exiled to some cold & rocky crag off the coast of Alaska. Then those 12 could compete there for viewers' affections. Viewers could pick-off the lesser 11 one by one, until the "Winner" is crowned -- and left alone in perpetual exile with only a High Res Cam as company. To view the "Winner" folks could log-on to a web-link, for a price, that gives access to the Cam. Portions of those earnings could be earmarked for heirs of the "Winner" -- which could lead to some fun and games for the families left behind.

BrooklynRider
October 25th, 2009, 12:08 AM
Go buy a new suit. We are pitching this to the networks next week.

lofter1
October 25th, 2009, 12:37 AM
As long as we don't have to go back to the NYRP.

Daquan13
October 25th, 2009, 08:25 PM
Info has surfaced the other day that Richard was convicted on charges some time ago, and that that prior conviction might be used to help build a case against him.

Fabrizio
October 25th, 2009, 08:33 PM
Frank Rich in Today's Times:

In Defense of the ‘Balloon Boy’ Dad

By FRANK RICH
Published: October 24, 2009
FOR a country desperate for good news, the now-deflated “balloon boy” spectacle would seem to be the perfect tonic. As Wolf Blitzer of CNN summed up the nation’s unrestrained joy upon learning that the imperiled boy had never been in any peril whatsoever: “All of us are so excited that little Falcon is fine.”

Then came even better news. After little Falcon revealed to Blitzer that his family “did this for the show,” we could all luxuriate in a warm bath of moral superiority. No matter what our own faults as parents, we could never top Richard Heene, who mercilessly exploited his child for fame and profit. Nor could we ever be as craven as the news media, especially cable television, which dumped a live broadcast of President Obama in New Orleans to track the supersized Jiffy Pop bag floating over Colorado.

Or such are the received lessons of this tale.

Certainly the “balloon boy” incident is a reflection of our time — much as the radio-induced “War of the Worlds” panic dramatized America’s jitters on the eve of World War II, or the national preoccupation with the now-forgotten Congressman Gary Condit signaled America’s pre-9/11 drift into escapism and complacency in the summer of 2001. But to see what “balloon boy” says about 2009, you have to look past the sentimental moral absolutes. You have to muster some sympathy for the devil of the piece, the Bad Dad. And you can’t grant blanket absolution to those in the American audience who smugly blame Heene and television exclusively for the entire embarrassing episode.

It would be lovely, for instance, to believe that cable audiences doubled in size that afternoon because they were rooting for little Falcon’s welfare. But as Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler would say on Weekend Update at “Saturday Night Live,” “Really?!?” Many of those viewers were driven by the same bloodlust that spawns rubberneckers at every highway accident: the hope of witnessing the graphic remains of a crash, not a soft landing.

It would also be nice to think that the “balloon boy” viewers were the innocent victims of a dazzling Houdini-class feat of wizardry — a “massive fraud,” as Bill O’Reilly thundered. But even slightly jaundiced onlookers might have questioned how a balloon could waft buoyantly through the skies for hours with a 6-year-old boy hidden within its contours. That so few did is an indication of how practiced we are at suspending disbelief when watching anything labeled news, whether the subject is W.M.D.’s in Iraq or celebrity gossip in Hollywood.

“They put on a very good show for us, and we bought it,” the local sheriff, Jim Alderden, said last weekend, when he alleged that “balloon boy” was a hoax. His words could stand as the epitaph for an era.

In this case, the show wasn’t even that good. But, as usual, the news media nursed it along, enlisting as sales reps for the smoke and mirrors. While the incident unfolded, most TV anchors hyped rather than questioned the aeronautical viability of a vehicle resembling the flying saucers in Ed Wood’s camp 1950s sci-fi potboiler, “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” But no sooner had the balloon been punctured than the press was caught in another flimflam. Reuters and CNBC delivered the bombshell that the United States Chamber of Commerce had abruptly reversed its intransigent opposition to climate-change legislation. The “spokesperson” source turned out to be the invention of liberal activists who had attempted to stage a prank press conference at Washington’s National Press Club.

Next to the other hoaxes and fantasies that have been abetted by the news media in recent years, both the “balloon boy” and Chamber of Commerce ruses are benign. The Colorado balloon may have led to the rerouting of flights and the wasteful deployment of law enforcement resources. But at least it didn’t lead the country into fiasco the way George W. Bush’s flyboy spectacle on an aircraft carrier helped beguile most of the Beltway press and too much of the public into believing that the mission had been accomplished in Iraq. The Chamber of Commerce stunt was a blip of a business news hoax next to the constant parade of carnival barkers who flogged empty stocks on cable during the speculative Wall Street orgies of the dot-com and housing booms.

As “balloon boy” played out, the White House opened fire on one purveyor of fictional news, Fox News, where “tea party” protests are inflated into a national rebellion rivaling the Civil War and where Glenn Beck routinely claims Obama is perpetrating a conspiracy to bring fascism to America. But the White House’s argument is diluted by the different, if less malevolently partisan, fictions that turn up on Fox’s competitors. On CNN, for instance, Lou Dobbs provided a platform for the nuts questioning Obama’s citizenship. When an ABC News correspondent insisted that Fox was “one of our sister organizations” in an exchange with the president’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, last week, he wasn’t joking.

Richard Heene is the inevitable product of this reigning culture, where “news,” “reality” television and reality itself are hopelessly scrambled and the warp-speed imperatives of cable-Internet competition allow no time for fact checking. Norman Lear, about the only prominent American to express any empathy for little Falcon’s father, vented on The Huffington Post, calling out CNN, MSNBC, Fox, NBC, ABC and CBS alike for their role in “creating a climate that mistakes entertainment for news.” This climate, he argued, “all but seduces a Richard and Mayumi Heene into believing they are — even if what they dream up to qualify is a hoax — entitled to their 15 minutes.”

None of this absolves Heene of blame for the damage he may have inflicted on the children he grotesquely used as a supporting cast in his schemes. But stupid he’s not. He knew how easy it would be to float “balloon boy” when the demarcation between truth and fiction has been obliterated.

There’s also some poignancy in his determination to grab what he and many others see as among the last accessible scraps of the American dream. As a freelance construction worker and handyman, he couldn’t find much employment in an economy where construction is frozen and homeowners are more worried about losing their homes than fixing them. Once his appetite had been whetted by two histrionic appearances on “Wife Swap,” an ABC reality program, it’s easy to see why Heene would turn his life and that of his family into a nonstop audition for more turns in the big tent of the reality media circus.

That circus is among the country’s last dependable job engines. More than a quarter of prime-time broadcast television is devoted to reality programs. And so, with only a high-school education, Heene tried to reinvent himself as a cable-ready tornado-chasing scientist. Robert Thomas, a Web entrepreneur who collaborated with Heene on a pitch to ABC for a science-based reality show, saw the “balloon boy” stunt as a sad response to his economic plight. “I think in this case the desperation was too much for Richard to bear,” Thomas said in an interview with Gawker.com. (It’s no less desperate a sign of the times that Thomas insisted on being paid for his interview.)

Heene is a direct descendant of those Americans of the Great Depression who fantasized, usually in vain, that they might find financial salvation if only they could grab a spotlight in show business. Some aspired to the “American Idol” of the day — “Major Bowes Amateur Hour,” a hugely popular weekly talent contest on network radio. Others traveled the seedy dance marathon circuit, entering 24/7 endurance contests that promised food and prize money in exchange for freak-show degradation and physical punishment. Horace McCoy’s 1935 novel memorializing this Depression milieu was aptly titled “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”

In 1939, the year that John Steinbeck published “The Grapes of Wrath,” his Depression classic about dispossessed Dust Bowl sharecroppers migrating to California’s Salinas Valley in search of work, Nathanael West published “The Day of the Locust,” about those equally destitute Americans who traveled to Hollywood hoping to land in the movies. “They have been cheated and betrayed,” West wrote. “They have slaved and saved for nothing.” He could have been describing Americans who lost their jobs, homes and 401(k)’s in our own Great Recession.

The role models for today’s desperate fame seekers are “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” not Gable and Lombard. But even if they catch a break, as Heene did on “Wife Swap,” they still may end up betrayed by a stacked system. As The Times reported in August, many reality shows are as cruel as the old dance marathons. The usual Hollywood workplace rules allowing breaks for rest or meals often don’t apply. Nor, sometimes, does the minimum wage. Let ’em eat fame.

If Heene’s balloon was empty, so were the toxic financial instruments, inflated by the thin air of unsupported debt, that cratered the economy he inhabits. The press hyped both scams, and the public eagerly bought both. But between the bogus balloon and the banks’ bubble, there’s no contest as to which did the most damage to the country. The ultimate joke is that Heene, unlike the reckless gamblers at the top of Citigroup and A.I.G., may be the one with a serious shot at ending up behind bars.

Daquan13
October 26th, 2009, 01:45 AM
Funny how everything is the "Balloon ______." Balloon Boy, Balloon Dad, Balloon Mom, Balloon Family. Now we have the Balloon Call.

Seinfeld comes to mind. :)



FAA investigators may be focusing on balloon call

By KRISTEN WYATT (AP) – 16 hours ago

DENVER — The parents who reported last week that their 6-year-old son may have been on board a giant, runaway balloon could potentially be in more trouble with the Federal Aviation Administration for making a phone call than for setting loose the saucer-shaped craft, aviation experts say.

Most FAA rules on the release of unmanned balloons, rockets and kites don't take effect until aircraft or property are put in danger or the craft enters restricted airspace. Hobbyists don't even need a pilot's license to fly an engine-less craft weighing less than 155 pounds.

Most likely, analysts say, the FAA is focusing on a phone call it received from the boy's father, Richard Heene, who reported the out-of-control aircraft was loose.

"That's what they're going to be looking at, that call," said Joseph Gutheinz Jr., a retired Army pilot and former FAA and U.S. Department of Transportation inspector. "If this guy was calling the FAA reporting a false emergency, and that disrupted other air traffic, that would be the bigger issue here."

Richard and Mayumi Heene (HEE-nee) reported last week that their son Falcon was in the escaped balloon hurtling through the air as millions watched on live TV. The boy was later found safe at the family's Fort Collins home, and authorities say they believe the balloon scare was a hoax. The FAA is saying little about what it is investigating.

The balloon episode caused a brief disruption at Denver International Airport last week, with some planes sent to different runways as a precaution, but no flights were grounded.

If authorities determine the phone call was a hoax, the U.S. Department of Transportation could pursue a federal criminal case.

Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general for the Transportation Department, said she suspects the FAA will wait for local law enforcement to figure out whether the Heenes' reports were intentionally false.

"They have to prove intent for a criminal case," Schiavo said.

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said he expects to recommend charges including conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, making a false report to authorities, and attempting to influence a public servant. The most serious charges are felonies and carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

Alderden said authorities also would seek restitution for the costs of the balloon chase, though he didn't provide a figure.

FAA Spokeswoman Laura Brown said violating federal balloon rules could result in penalties that "could be anything from a warning letter to a civil penalty."

"There's not a lot more we can say about the investigation right now," she said.

Brown wouldn't say how long the investigation could take or what possible fines would be. The FAA typically levies large fines only against commercial airlines that break federal safety rules. Its largest fine ever was $10.2 million against Southwest Airlines last year for flying planes that had missed critical safety checks, though that fine was later reduced to $7.5 million.

Gutheinz said he doubts the FAA knows what to make of the alleged Heene hoax. Agency investigators spend most of their time reviewing large operations, not investigating kooky episodes that grab the public's attention.

"Every once in a while you get a drunk pilot, or a student flying a plane they're not supposed to fly, but nothing like this," he said. "This is just something no one's ever imagined happening."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.



Also the '60s or '70s comedy movie 'Five Weeks in a Balloon'. Remember that one?

ZippyTheChimp
October 27th, 2009, 09:48 AM
"He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind."

Ninjahedge
October 27th, 2009, 11:42 AM
Bush's Baked Beans?

Daquan13
October 27th, 2009, 04:27 PM
Duke: "Yeah, that's it! UFO's."

Daquan13
October 28th, 2009, 06:01 AM
Even more dirt was dug up on this guy!

Info has just surfaced that sometime ago, that Richard Heene filmed a stint with his oldest boy, posing with a beer can in his hand and a cigar in his mouth, and forcing the cigar into the boy's mouth.

I hope that they lose custody of the kids!! :mad:

lofter1
October 28th, 2009, 10:44 AM
Richard Heene may rue the day he bought that video cam ...

BALLOON BOY AND THE BIG CIGAR (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQEc9bj9JLw&feature=player_embedded)

Daquan13
October 28th, 2009, 12:10 PM
Yeah, that looks pretty much like him doing that with the baby.

Put a vid cam in this sick moron's hands and it's almost like giving a small child a gun to play Russian Roulette with! :(