Saturday, October 17, 2009

Man claims he has 'proof' balloon incident was a stunt

I was traveling home from the west coast Thursday and awaiting a connecting flight in Atlanta when I caught the non-stop coverage of the "balloon boy" incident. Like everyone else, I was horrified that a 6-year-old kid might be stuck in a runaway helium balloon. I would learn later, of course, that Falcon Heene was hiding inside his own house the whole time.

Even when word got out that Falcon's parents had been featured on the TV show "Wife Swap" and Richard Heene was looking more and more like a publicity hound, I was still a bit skeptical that Falcon's parents deliberately tricked the world into believing that their son was in mortal danger. Now? Hmmmm.
The student, who remains anonymous, told The Business Insider that he worked with Heene in 2009 on potential reality show proposals to pitch to ABC.

He says that he and Heene pitched a show that would include several pranks, one of which was similar to the high-flying balloon incident, according to The Business Insider.

"When Mr. Heene is denying having any involvement with this being for a show — when the little kid, Falcon, says 'Dad, you said to go hide in the attic, we're doing this for the show' — and then he's adamantly denying that, that's when I started cracking up because I have proof that that's not true," said the student, according to The Business Insider.
A lot will depend on the nature of the prank they'd planned, I guess. It's possible that Heene did intentionally let the balloon get away as a prank, but unless the plan included the bit about a kid being trapped in the balloon, it's not a smoking gun.

Much is being made about Falcon not appearing in the home video released yesterday showing the moment when the balloon "got away". Well, duh. That's the whole point, isn't it? Let's just say that the planned hoax was simply a runaway balloon. If at the moment the balloon "accidentally" gets away Falcon is nowhere to be seen, why wouldn't mom and dad at least initially fear the worst? On the other hand, a runaway balloon - even one as weird-looking as Heene's - is hardly an attention-grabbing hoax. But a runaway balloon with a kid trapped inside? Media feeding frenzy!

Update: The original plan did NOT include a kid trapped in the runaway balloon. No smoking gun.

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