Balloon Boy Lives! Pass the popcorn

First, let’s celebrate the fact that six-year-old Falcon Heene is alive and unharmed. Turned out the runaway balloon boy was in the attic, hiding in a box, the whole time. But let’s also take a moment to congratulate the junior aviator on perpetrating the greatest practical joke played on cable news since Glenn Beck got his own show. Ashton Kutcher couldn’t have punk’d the media any better. Whether it was all part of an elaborate publicity stunt (Falcon’s family were once contestants on Wife Swap, which has raised some commentators’ eyebrows), or whether the little boy was merely lost on his own Where the Wild Things Are imaginary adventure, it doesn’t matter. Today’s coverage of the unplanned lift off—live news feed showing a tin foil balloon drifting in the sky above Colorado, looking like a giant flying Jiffy Pop, supposedly with a six-year-old trapped inside, was broadcast on all three cable networks through most of mid-day—proves that the news is still the best damn drama on the air, if not always the most informing or enlightening. Sure, we could point out that there were actual news stories to cover (attacks in Pakistan kill 40, the Hague sets a date for Radovan Karadzic’s war crimes trial) but Falcon’s “flight” was just too riveting. It was the 21st Century update of a child caught in a well (see Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole, or Google the real-life story of Jessica McClure), amplified by the omniscient 24-hour cable and Internet news cycle. Personally, we enjoyed this real-life version of Up, especially since it ended so happily.

Here’s a refresher if you missed the action — this clip covers the balloon landing before the boy was found obviously! What did you think, Pop Watchers?

Comments (92 total) Add your comment
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  • Shamrock

    Oh the exuberance of childhood.

  • Cdaig

    Funny how the news people kept perpetuating this story even the balloon landed and any rightminded person could see that this toy could not carry a 6 year old boy. This was the parents publicity stunt. Put a damned UFO balloon in the back yard and see if the kids could leave it alone..

  • Laurel

    It sounds to me like the family home should have been thoroughly searched when Falcon first disappeared. It would have saved a lot of time and expense.

    • In hindsight, sure

      With a strong possibility that he was in the balloon, they had to act as though he was.

    • Sydney

      I saw that fanily on Wife swap, I thought they were the weirdist family ever saw I thought the Dad was a nut and the boys were out of control and one day would end up in jail. I think Athorities should examine all the Wifeswap footage, this guy may have done this just to get the cameras to follow for the enjoyment. Sad, Sad little family.

  • T

    So happy the boy is safe.
    I happen to agree with Glenn Beck. Much better advice than your articles.

    • Kim

      Sorry, T, I thought the Glenn Beck comment was hilarious. :)

    • CC

      T, you’re scary!

    • vwm

      T, you’re not scary, far from it. I agree with you and it’s too bad that negative comments can’t just fly away on the ufo balloon!

    • MultiPass

      Glenn Beck is a pig. He preys on stupid people, says jingoistic populist garbage to get ratings and is a multimillionaire. Just as fake as that balloon drama, only the sad thing is he gets rich off dumba$$es who believe him

    • vwm

      First let me say, if the balloon event was fake – that was truly STUPID!! Next, It’s just amazing what negative things people will say about others they not only don’t know, but have differnet opinions with. As a college graduate, I hope my being stupid (as I have been accussed above) is limited to wasting my time reading & responding to your words that only lead to hate, disrespect and small-mindedness. Now I know that in the future, I will enjoy watching what you consider garbage so much better.

  • Frank from NYC

    Close, but no Darwin Award.

    • Close?

      How so? Did you miss that the kid was never in danger?

  • bob jones

    This clown was just trying to get attention. And making eveyone think his child was in danger. He should be made to pay for the search effort(including the backhawk’s fuel bill) for his little publicity stunt

    • mscisluv

      Even if it wasn’t a publicity stunt, I still think the family should get billed for the search for being idiots.

      • Brian

        Couldn’t agree more. I hope the state of Colorado fines them , too.

    • Beth R.

      Absolutely. And I shudder to think what might have happened if someone had gotten hurt or killed trying to attempt a rescue in the air. This is fraud, and there should be prison time involved.

    • MojoMom

      Dragging the kids onto live tv this morning at around 5:30 am, and seeing Falcon throw up during the interview was really distressing. Whatever happened yesterday, these little kids are getting used today.

  • Mark

    The family has their own “music video”. Warning: Repulsive

  • sara

    Another case of fame wh*re parents using their kids to get into the spotlight. This was clearly a hoax.

  • Rebecca

    It was either a publicity stunt (which I doubt), or the more believable story of a kid who messed around with the balloon when he shouldn’t have and hid for fear of punishment.

    • Abby

      When I first saw the story I said just that. The kid is probably hiding for fear of getting in trouble. The poilce and parents should have searched the house, top to bottom, right away.

  • Tee

    I had a feeling the kid never took off, especially after reading that the family had some media attention before (wife swap, news stories about storm chasing, etc). Plus as a bonus it’s more pleasant to think about than the alternative!

    But I wouldn’t really say it was harmless amusement either, given the amount of resouces that went into trying to locate the kid. Weren’t they also cancelling flights, albeit briefly, at the airport as well since the balloon got so close to there? I would probably be kind of peeved if my flight was a casualty of that prank!

    • Not quite

      They didn’t cancel flights but they had to close a runway and divert air traffic coming in. Probably caused some delays although the middle of the day is less busy than AM or PM rush hours.

      Also, from what I understand, if search and rescue need to come and get you out of sticky situation, you have to pay for it. I’m not 100% sure about that, but that’s what I’ve heard.

      • Tee

        Ah yeah, the article I read it in earlier I see now got edited at some point to no longer contain the flight cancellation blurb. Guess it was some misinformation to begin with.

  • Elizabeth

    I am ashamed that most people are calling this a hoax. These people were clearly distraught that their child was missing. I’m sure that they searched the house// the little boy was in the attic above the garage…not an average place for a child to hide. I’m just thankful the kids alive.

    • kayla

      I am ashamed that some people are actually buying it. Maybe after a week of seeing these people all over Oprah and the Today Show and Larry King and Entertainment Tonight etc etc it’ll become a little bit clearer. The balloon story is not even remotely believable.

    • Jack

      Please that entire family should be jailed for child abuse and misuse of government resources

      • Shamrock

        Child abuse?

    • Newt

      These people clearly coached their children to participate in their hoax. Actors. Liers.
      Doing that to a six year old kid!Shameless.

    • Diggity

      The kid said on TV that his parents told him to do this. Are you kidding me?

      • No he didn’t

        He said “You guys said it was for a show”. But because the dad and Wolf Blitzer didn’t immediately follow up, there’s no way to know what he meant. He may very well have meant that’s why he was sitting there in front of a TV camera at that moment.

      • Diggity

        OK, you go ahead and beleive this. I also have a beautiful bridge for sale that connects Manhattan to Brooklyn if you are interested. Real Cheap.

    • rika agustini

      you are so stupid for saying thanks god the son is alive,… you are dumb!!! they fooled people and screwed!!! They better go to the jail for life

  • Jack

    Not sure if anyone else caught it but during the interview with CNN Falcon was questioned as to why he didnt come down when he heard everyone calling and he stated “well you guys said we were doing this for the show” The enterviewer as well as father etched around the comment and never came back to it. I cant be the only one to have seen that. WHy did the interviewer not run with that one!

    • gigi

      This whole thing was fishy from the start. Glad the kid is okay…but something ain’t right about this.

    • Wolf

      Wolf dropped the ball on that. But this is a confused, tired 6-year old. He may have been talking about why he had to come to the living room with all the strangers with cameras.

  • Jackson

    What a funny article! I couldn’t agree more!

  • Edward Vanderbosch

    Publicity stunt! The balloon wasn’t of great enough volume to lift a 50 pound boy off the ground!
    Scientist dad should sure know this!

  • Carli

    Total publicity stunt. On Larry King Live, they asked Falcon why he didn’t respond to everyone calling out his name and he said, “You guys said we did this for a show…”

    • Sina

      are you serious! I have to watch the repeat of Larry King tonight.

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