Police are searching the skies for a Fort Collins, Colorado boy who floated away from the family home on an “experimental aircraft” this morning.
Police say that the homemade dome-shaped, 20 foot, 5 foot aircraft (covered with foil) was tethered with a rope while the family constructed it. Some time this morning, the family’s six-year-old son entered the craft and released the rope. Neighbors have spotted the craft nearby, and the Federal Aviation Administration is helping track the aircraft on its radar tower. Denver International
Airport has been notified about the situation.
The FAA is reporting that the craft was last spotted twenty-six miles east of Fort Collins in Greeley, Colorado.
Update: The craft has not yet been located, but aviation expert Greg Feith spoke to News 9 about the logistics of the rescue:
“It is an unusual event and the big thing now is trying to get that child down from this balloon. It’s all going to depend on of course the environment. It’s windy outside so it’s going to keep it adrift for quite a while. The helium, depending on the size of this thing, if it ran into very cold air, it may help it come down as you know if you let a helium balloon go the higher it gets it’ll stagnate only because of the cold air,” Feith said.
Feith added that without knowing the structural integrity of the aircraft it is difficult to know how it will withstand any turbulence.
“The other key here is the structural integrity. Not knowing how it’s constructed and given the fact that we do have these wind conditions which of course create turbulence we don’t know how much turbulence this airship, if you will, can actually withstand so there’s a lot of external factors here,” he added.
Update 2: The family are the storm-chasing Heenes featured on an episode of ABC’s Wife Swap.
Update 3: The craft has landed. The boy has not yet been removed from the craft, and it is unlikely he is still inside. Reports indicate the boy may have fallen from the craft elsewhere. The boy has been identified as 6-year-old Falcon Heene.
Update 4: Reports indicate the child may have never been in the balloon to begin with.
Update 5: The child, Falcon Heene, remains missing at 2:59pm local time. The boy’s brother reports that Falcon may have been in a box attached to the craft. He has been missing for several hours.
Update 6: Experts claim that the balloon couldn’t have supported the weight of the child (60 lbs.) and some news sources are speculating that the incident may be a publicity hoax.
Update 7: Falcon Heene has been found safe, and is reportedly home with his family. Reports indicate he was hiding in the attic the entire time.