Six-year-old Falcon Heene took over cable news this afternoon when he crawled into a makeshift helium aircraft tethered in his backyard, untethered it, and set himself free to fly away. The balloon quickly ascended high over their neighborhood north of Denver, and eventually reached 8,500 feet. It’s now moving at about 25 miles per hour, surrounded by news aircraft. The Colorado National Guard is on the case, talking with Richard Heene, Falcon’s father, about the details of the craft — which is losing helium and dropping in elevation but could stay aloft for hours, experts on MSNBC have said. The balloon itself is twenty feet in diameter and six feet high. The short cylinder compartment in the bottom is a closed basket, where Falcon is currently stowed. It was not designed for human transport.
The Heene family are weather enthusiasts who chase storms in the summer months, which is why they had the experimental balloon in their yard. They were recently featured on the television show Wife Swap.
Update: The balloon just landed, and Falcon was not inside the compartment.
Update 2: CNN is reporting that the actual basket that Falcon was thought to have been inside was not attached to the balloon when it landed. Reportedly, it was when the balloon took off.
Update 3: An object was photographed falling off of the balloon as it was still over the Heene neighborhood. According to some reports, Falcon’s brother saw him tumble from the balloon.