The six-year-old who became known as & # 39; balloon boy & # 39; after being rotated by his parents in an elaborate hoax, telling the world that he was drifted away in a helium-flying saucer in 2009 when he was actually hiding in their attic, 10 years later he and his family speak out that they have not lied.
Falcon Heene, now 16, was interviewed by Good morning America together with his parents, Richard and Mayumi, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the bizarre stunt.
He was six when his parents claimed in 2009 that he was trapped in a home-made helium weather balloon that left their garden and drifted 90 minutes before landing at their home in Fort Collins, Colorado.
The stunt caught the attention of millions. Concerned viewers saw live images of the balloon floating in the air, terrified of Falcon's safety, and the National Guard was involved in trying to land.
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Richard Heene said Tuesday that he and his wife Mayumi (right) were innocent and that they were treated unfairly. They claim that they thought their son was in the balloon when it takes off
Then and now: Falcon is left behind in the arms of his father in 2009 after the stunt. He appears on Good Morning on Tuesday Good Morning America. He is now 16
For 90 minutes in 2009, the world watched as the helium weather balloon (pictured) floated above Colorado
When the balloon landed again, Falcon was not inside. He was later found in the family's attic. His parents were accused of conspiring to commit crimes and both pleaded guilty.
However, they still claim that they really thought he was inside and say that they only confessed to preventing immigration services from investigating the family and possibly withdrawing Mayumi's residence. She is a Japanese immigrant.
Richard, a weatherman at the time, is still bitter about the way he thinks he was treated unfairly by the media.
In his interview with ABC he said: & # 39; This is another hit that I had anticipated.
& # 39; What would be nice if the media were to go: & # 39; Yes, Richard has a point, but it is so biased, the media have the same story.
& # 39; I have lost many opportunities, people have contacted me about things that I have come up with and the deal went south because they found out who I am.
& # 39; The media never tell my side of the story. & # 39;
His mother told the show that she only confessed that she was afraid that her children would be taken from her if she didn't.
When the balloon finally landed, rescuers rushed to him but were stunned to open it and find it empty. There were then fears that Falcon had fallen from something
It turned out Falcon had been hiding in his family's attic all the time
The family was interviewed by CNN immediately after the incident and Falcon said: & # 39; We did it for the TV show & # 39;
& # 39; I thought I would be deported, then I will not see my husband or children, I will not be able to see them, & # 39; she said.
Falcon, who is now in a heavy metal band with his two brothers, said he was indifferent to the incident.
& # 39; I have not thought of anything, & # 39; Falcon said.
The stunt unfolded on October 15, 2009.
The family had just been rejected for a reality TV show showing her and their interest in science.
Richard worked as a weatherman and built what his wife later described as a & # 39; flying saucer & # 39 ;.
In their first phone calls to 911, they claimed that the balloon accidentally left their back yard, with Falcon in it.
They said they were testing it and it was tied up.
What followed was a hectic, 90-minute saga that fascinated millions of people who saw live coverage of the balloon flying over Colorado.
The couple pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a crime and avoided prison sentences
The & # 39; flying saucer & # 39; who built and released Falcon & # 39; s parents. They had already been rejected for a reality show
When it finally landed, rescuers rushed to get Falcon out. Planes were grounded in advance to limit the chance that he would be injured.
As soon as they opened the balloon and found nothing in it, the fear increased that Falcon had fallen.
It was only later that he was found in the family's attic.
The concerns for the boy soon changed into suspicion about the story of his parents. It became even more intense when Falcon announced during a live interview with Wolf Blitzer from CNN: & # 39; We did it for the TV show. & # 39;
Richard and Mayumi were later accused of conspiring to commit a crime and other hoax-related charges. They plead guilty to prevent the imprisonment and deportation of Mayumi.
Earlier this month it was revealed that Mayumi wrote a diary describing how her husband planned the stunt.
On the first page, dated April 27, 2009, Mayumi spoke about a production company that rejected the field.
& # 39; What can we do to help them? & # 39; Mayumi wrote. & # 39; They would not raise money, but we can do our own project … Then they can have one & # 39; one-off & # 39; of it, & she added, according to 5280.com.
On September 30, Mayumi wrote: & # 39; Richard has redesigned the flying saucer many times. He started 30 feet. He called around to see if it was feedable (sic), but he thought it was expensive (sic). He also thought it would not fit in our back yard. & # 39;
Between October 1 and 2, Mayumi wrote that her husband had made a shopping list and that they had recorded the intro of the project with their children.
October 3, she wrote: & # 39; We started building a flying saucer and shooting the process indoors because it was snowing. & # 39;
Now Falcon and his brothers are in a heavy metal band. They say they don't want to do anything with the hoax, but they use images of flying balloons in their music video
The brothers, all trained at home, said they did not want to be associated with the stunt
According to 5280.com, on one of the notes, Mayumi said they have a video from Falcon that says: & # 39; I want to get into it & # 39 ;.
In a note dated October 14, Mayumi claims that Richard asked me to remind me of the & # 39; Lawnchair Larry & # 39; story, after which Richard said what Falcon had hidden and landed half an hour later, and then in (news ) mention paper Fort Collins …. Falcon can hide in the closet with a safe in the basement & # 39 ;.
On October 15, the day of the incident, Mayumi wrote that she did not believe they would launch the flying saucer because of the & # 39; strong wind & # 39 ;.
& # 39; Due to the wind, it could crash onto someone, cars & whatever … Richard said we would do the third test and stop. That's why I thought he behaved so strangely. After the flying saucer went off, it became so hysterical. Because he started so hysterically, I started to take it seriously. After it was launched, we didn't know if Falcon was in the flying saucer or in the house or anywhere, & she wrote.
Three days later, on October 18, Mayumi said she found out when we visited our lawyer (sic) that Richard revealed that he was coming to the basement to find Falcon, but he wasn't there.
& # 39; Richard thought Falcon would really be in the flying saucer. & # 39;
But once the diary was discovered and presented to the couple, Mayumi denied it was true.
& # 39; I made up the whole story, & # 39; she told the site.
& # 39; What? & # 39; Richard asked before Mayumi explained that she had written it.
& # 39; What do you mean, you wrote this? & # 39; Said Richard, according to 5280.com. & # 39; What are you talking about? You said you didn't know what this was. Why would you write this? & # 39;
Mayumi replied: & # 39; To save myself, because of our children. & # 39;
BALLOON BOY: HOW THE DRAMA PERFORMED
October 15, 2009:
News emerges that a six-year-old boy was driven away in an experimental helium-filled weather balloon. Richard Heene, the boy's father, had been working on the vessel – which had to fly at low altitudes – at his home in Fort Collins, Colorado when it was released and drifted.
Another son of Richard Heene said he thought he had seen his brother Falcon climb into the balloon for a few moments before raising the fear that the little boy was floating across the Colorado sky at altitudes of up to 7,000 feet.
Falcon & # 39; s mother Mayumi makes a frantic 911 call reporting the disappearance and rescuers hurry to find the disk-shaped vessel.
About 90 minutes later the balloon lands in a field and the boy is nowhere to be found. Initially this led to authorities fearing the worst – that the boy had dropped out en route – but it later turned out that the boy had been hiding in his parents' house all this time. He was in a box in the attic.
Falcon said to reporters outside at the time: & # 39; I played with my toys and took a nap & # 39 ;.
Richard Heene hugged the boy and added: & He says it's because I screamed at him. I'm sorry I yelled at him. & # 39;
October 15, 2009:
Richard Heene is being interviewed by Wolf Blitzer for the CN Larry King Live show. Falcon is asked why he hid in the attic and he answers: & # 39; You said we did this before the show. & # 39;
After interviewer Wolf Blitzer presses him further on the comment, Richard Heene becomes uncomfortable and complains about the & # 39; terrible & # 39; ask. He then said his son referred to media coverage after the incident.
911 recordings are released where little Falcon Heene & # 39; s mother Mayumi is heard begging operators to find someone to get & # 39; my son & # 39; after he drifted away on a & # 39; flying saucer & # 39 ;. Later it appears that she is referring to a silver disc-shaped weather balloon.
Richard Heene, who is crazy, then comes on the phone and explains: & # 39; We had it tied up. It shouldn't have taken off. We test it. I don't know if you can follow the electricity produced. It goes on for one minute every five minutes. It emits a million volts to the outer skin. & # 39;
October 20, 2009:
Richard and Mayumi Heene do a lie detector test, but the results are never published.
Robert Thomas, who worked with the family, said they were convinced the world would end in 2012 and wanted to build an underground bunker to protect themselves when the sun exploded.
Thomas also said that the Heene family & # 39; obsessed & # 39; was by trying to make a reality TV show and he had planned the hoax with them as a media stunt. He added that although he was aware of a hot air balloon, he did not realize that they would use their children. He was not charged.
Parents of Falcon Heene plead guilty of wasting police time in a court in Denver, Colorado, after a deal with prosecutors to prevent imprisonment and possible deportation.
Richard Heene, 48 at the time, was sentenced to 90 days in prison, including 60 days & # 39; work release & # 39; at Larimer County District Court after admitting he had performed the stunt to promote a reality TV show. His wife Mayumi, who was 45, is sentenced to 20 days' imprisonment to start after her husband's stint.
The couple were instructed to repay $ 42,000 for the rescue efforts of the emergency services. This included $ 8,500 for damage to the field where the vessel landed.
Richard Heene said to the court: & # 39; I want to repeat that I am very sorry. & # 39;
The judge forbade them from taking advantage of the hoax for four years. He argued that the couple had not acted on behalf of TV companies, but that they had devised it all themselves, not necessarily just to get a TV program, but at least to get their name back. and maybe hoping that someone would pick them up & # 39 ;.
& # 39; Before that, & # 39; he said, & # 39; should they be punished? & # 39;
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