‘Balloon Boy’ Says, ‘We Did This for a Show’

October 16th, 2009 by

FOX News
The 6-year-old Colorado boy thought to have floated off in a homemade balloon has raised questions whether it might have been an elaborate attention-getting family stunt.

During a live interview on CNN Thursday night, Falcon Heene said he heard his family calling his name as he hid in the rafters of their garage. At the time, there was a frantic effort to bring down the balloon safely.

Falcon’s father asked, “Why didn’t you come out?” The boy answered, “You had said we did this for a show.”

Later, Richard Heene bristled when the family was asked to clarify and said he didn’t know what his son meant. He didn’t ask his son what he meant by “a show.”

“I’m kind of appalled after all the feelings that I went through, up and down, that you guys are trying to suggest something else,” Richard Heene said.

After the CNN interview, Richard Heene told KUSA-TV in Denver that he thought his son was referring to earlier in the day when he showed reporters his hiding spot. He didn’t return a message from The Associated Press.

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said earlier on Thursday that authorities did not believe it was a hoax but he would meet with investigators Friday to decide whether to look into the matter further.

Asked during an impromptu news conference outside his house whether the incident was a stunt, Richard Heene said: “That’s horrible. After the crap we just went through. No. No, no, no.”

The boys’ parents — Richard Heene and his wife, Mayumi — are storm chasers who appeared twice in the ABC reality show “Wife Swap.”

And in addition to attaining a level of reality TV fame on the series, Richard Heene has his own amateur video series on YouTube in which he sizes up various pop culture phenomena.

For each topic, from the Loch Ness monster to Britney Spears’ chest, he asks the question “fake or real?”

On Thursday, Heene’s family became the center of a real-life drama that raised the same question, as Colorado authorities feared his son was trapped in a runaway flying balloon only to discover after the balloon crashed that the boy had been hiding, safe at home the whole time.

Mystified authorities had launched a ground search for the boy after the flying balloon he was believed to have been trapped in crashed without him inside. The mystery was solved later when the boy, Falcon Heene, came out of hiding to see his mother, Mayumi Heene, who was sitting on the couch.

Authorities had never looked in the attic where the boy was hiding.

“It was a miracle to see him,” Mayumi Heene said told reporters while clutching her three boys, including Falcon.

His father said they were working on an experimental craft.

“I call it the 3D LAV, a low-altitude vehicle for people to pull out of their garage and hover above traffic for about 50 or 100 feet,” he told reported. “It’s very early stages of the invention.”

Richard Heene’s “Fake or Real” videos are little more than amusing first-person rants, delivered solo directly into the camera and typically lasting barely a minute.

In one video, dated Jan. 18, 2008, Heene takes on the airplane crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr.

“I don’t know why it would make any sense to me,” Heene says, while driving in a car.

It often is difficult to tell if Heene is joking or being serious. In another clip he makes fun of people who say they see life on Mars.

“I want you guys to let me know,” he says before going into a five minute tirade with a NASA photo of Mars’ surface on his computer screen.

Using computer photo software he zooms in on random images and points out what could be “signs of life” — a bone, a skeleton key, eyes, high-rise buildings and a miniature skull, just to name a few.

Chiropractors, teleportation inventors and even Hilary Clinton (is she a reptile?) face similar treatment through Heene’s lens.

But Heene’s brief “Fake or Real” segments are only appetizers compared to some of the other video productions in which has been involved.

Heene also is part of a Web site called thepsyiencedetectives.com. Videos on YouTube show him and two others debating science and pseudo-science issues, such as UFOs, as if auditioning for both Comedy Central and the Discovery Channel.

But while the Web site is prominently displayed and referred to during their videos, a search for the site Thursday night turned up a blank page.

The family also has been featured on local TV station for their somewhat interesting “family vacations” — storm chasing.

“What my kids learn from these storms and what they walk away with is the fact that these storms can be very deadly,” Heene tells TV station KMGH in video posted on YouTube. “They see what happens when houses are caught in the path of destruction. Now, we always avoided paths of destruction when we go.”

On the videos the children are seen photographing the storms and being extremely active in the chasing process.

“I feel like I need to share this with him,” Heene told the station, adding that safety is always his first priority.

In a 2007 interview with The Denver Post, Richard Heene described becoming a storm chaser after a tornado ripped off a roof where he was working as a contractor and said he once flew a plane around Hurricane Wilma’s perimeter in 2005.

Pursuing bad weather was a family activity, with the children coming along as the father sought evidence to prove his theory that rotating storms create their own magnetic fields.

Although Heene said he had no specialized training, the family had a computer tracking system in its car and a special motorcycle.

The Web site ABC used to promote “Wife Swap” portrays the family members as thrill-seekers.

“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,” the Web site said.

The Heenes were criticized for their chaotic parenting style when Karen Martel of Connecticut entered the household as the new “wife.” Martel’s husband runs a child-proofing business, and she knew a thing or two about safety.

According to a recap on TVRage.com, the 100th episode finds two families swapping with each other who are returning by a viewers vote.

“One mom believes she is psychic and can speak with the dead, plus has control over the weather. The other is a family of storm chasing science-enthusiasts. The kids in the families will face off in a table meeting”

Attempts by Foxnews.com to contact the Connecticut family they swapped with were not successful.

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