Story of The "Balloon Boy" Just a Hoax For Media Attention


By Brittany O’Loughlin

On October 15 in Fort Collins, Colorado, a young boy, Falcon Heene, was believed to be in a homemade helium balloon, floating at up to 7,000 feet. When the object landed and the boy was not inside, it was feared that he had somehow fallen out. This fear was strong in both his family and the communities following his story, until he was found that afternoon in the attic of his home. Later, during an interview on the Larry King Live show, it appeared that, the balloon incident was a hoax, contrived by the boy’s parents for media attention.
     When Falcon Heene’s older brother reported that he saw his brother climb into the balloon, only meant to hover at 20 feet, shortly before it floated away, panic ensued. CNN reports that after hours of waiting for the balloon to land, the authorities found it empty, only to discover that the child was in a box, in his attic the entire time. Coverage of the incident was followed throughout the country.
     When Falcon Heene was asked by Wolf Blitzer why he did not come out of the attic when he heard his name being called, he answered “You guys said we did this for the show.” Three days after the incident, when authorities announced that the whole event was a hoax, the family finally said that they had been aware the entire time that there was no one within the balloon. Mayumi Heene, Falcon’s mother, allegedly admitted to the police that it was a stunt to make the family, who was featured on an episode of “Wife Swap”, more marketable to the media. It is possible that criminal or federal charges could be filed against Mr. and Mrs. Heene for child-endangerment.
    This story grew so huge in the public eye that it even led to “Balloon Boy” Halloween costumes, sold by a Canadian Company, the New York Times reports. Also, a free “Balloon Boy” internet game was created with the slogan, “Waste Taxpayer Money!” The objective of the game is to play as Falcon Heene in the balloon and evade the authorities for as long as possible. Although the media attention has begun to die down, the “Balloon Boy” episode will be remembered for a very long time.