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ABC's "Wife Swap" family's balloon is subject of airborne drama


The experimental balloon that floated over eastern Colorado for more than two hours before landing in a field about 12:45 p.m. PDT reportedly did not contain the 6-year-old boy who was believed to have climbed aboard the craft earlier today.

The boy's family recently appeared on "Wife Swap," an ABC reality show.

The Heene family -- which includes storm scientist Richard, his wife, Mayumi, and their three children  -- was featured on last fall's edition of the program, which takes two families with differing values and switches the mothers for a two-week period. They were described in press materials as adventure-loving and were paired with a more staid family from Connecticut.

A source said the youngest child, Falcon, climbed into the balloon-like aircraft and was aloft over the skies of eastern Colorado.

After traveling aloft for more than two hours, the homemade aircraft landed in a field and was surrounded by rescue personnel. The child's fate was unclear.

-- Dawn Chmielewski

--Photo: Heene family in front of hot air balloon at their home/Credit: ABC

Comments () | Archives (19)

Those parents should be taken up and dropped from 15,000 feet!

If they find this child alive, what is in store for them from the Adams County Department Of Social Services Witch Hunt and child kill team will be worse.

- Jay

to the previous poster - you obviously don't have kids - you can't possibly watch your kids 24/7 he was playing in the backyard with his older brother who would have thought he'd climb into the aircraft? nobody could have predicted that. Just as you can't predict a child will run out into the street to catch a ball and be hit by a car, or fall off a swingset and break his neck - its a very unfortunate, tragic incident and I can only hope they find this boy safe by some miracle.

What I don't get is why they don't know if the kid fell our or not. If one of my kids came in and told me the other just flew off in a homemade UFO I had built in my backyard, I'd be in my car following that thing, never taking my eyes off of it! This has to be some kind of hoax. This guy probably wants to extend his 15 minutes. Being on wife swap twice evidently isn't enough.

NO its not there fault. Neglect isn't either! you have know right for saying that

Is that balloon even large enough and light enough to carry as large a payload as a 6 year old boy?

The photos look like it might not be but the data is missing for people to run the calculations.

One cubic foot of air displaced by helium will lift an ounce, and this one is reported to have already had a plywood box beneath it.

Anything large enough to lift a child would also need some serious tie-downs.

Adam, Where did you go to School ? Did you even go to School.. your grammar is horrible !!!! I wouldn't be writting comments with a grammar like yours....

u guys are idiots, this is not hoax, nor is this a time to be debating their parenting skills.

this is a tragedy. This child may have died, if you can't empathize, at least sympathize for the family going through this, instead of passing judgment

Why were they not in school?

The father is nuts you would need 100 times the amount of helium to lift a 40 pound child

Poor dumb kid, poor dumb-ass parents. I guess the "adventurer spirit" doesn't come with intellect in abundance. Hope they find the kid OK, but I don't suspect they will.

Simply atrocious behavior from the parents. Child safety is a big joke to them. These are people that chase tornadoes with their kids in tow. They don't deserve to be treated like victims.

The kid's probably better off gone.

these parents do not seem to be wanting any publicity, and my heart goes out to them. and i remember when i was a child, i would take off on my bike or go to the public pool and my parents did not have their eyes on me 24/7. and this kid was in his back yard. i think that we just need to be praying for his safe return

huge hoax perpetrated by the children. that's what happens when you're raised by looney parents.

I say the whole thing was staged.

A family of attention whores.

First off, the father is not a "scientist." He's a contractor with an amateur's interest in violent storms.

As to the "missing" child - if he's truly missing, no decent person would wish anything other than that he be found and quickly restored to his family, safe and sound.

That said, all this smells suspiciously like a pretty ratty hoax. If this ends up being a play for publicity, I hope the parents get the whole book thrown at them. Shutting down Denver airport costs taxpayers and business a bundle and if some rescuer on the end of a rope had gotten hurt or killed the word "tragedy" would not be sufficient.

I don't condemn these "reality show" wannabe celebs for parental neglect, but question their failure to search more diligently for the boy before sounding the panic alarm. They should at least be required to reimburse local law enforcement authorities for all the the TAXPAYER FUNDS that their unjustified panic wasted in this unwarranted wild-goose chase!! Maybe then they will actually do their job as parents before casually relying on the 911 option...

We have heard many recent stories in national news about people abusing 911 services...it only dilutes the quality of service for those who legitimately need such a vital lifeline!!

ABC should cancel Wife Swap for giving insane, publicity-seeking families this kind of attention. I'm so disgusted with this family for pulling such a disturbing hoax.

This had to be a stunt, look at the interviews. The dad can't even look at the TV when talking, etc. The kid came right out and said it was for "A Show", without coaxing from anyone, it was an on the spur of the moment question and obviously, the kid was a little hessitant to even say. Kids on the spur of the moment don't lie like that. There was definitely something there and they know it.. They should have been outside watching it where it was going, etc. No, they waited 20 min before calling 911 to report. Come on people, wake up. I am glad to see the Sheriffs office sees what is going on and is now charging them. Hopefully their won't be a next time to get another 15 min of fame.. Get real! You could even hear it in his voice, and trying to cry on TV, nope. Didn't happen. And where did the dad go on the phone call to 911? Something was not right from the start.


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