FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Ten years ago one of the strangest events in Colorado history occurred. On Oct. 15, 2009, Richard Heene led police and media on a chase across Colorado’s skies and wound up halting flights at Denver International Airport in the process.

The weather balloon in the the Colorado "balloon boy" saga flies across the sky.

The weather balloon in the the Colorado “balloon boy” saga flies across the sky. (credit: CBS)

Heene, formerly of Fort Collins, said he feared his 6-year-old son Falcon had crawled into his homemade, UFO-shaped hot-air balloon before it accidentally sailed away.

Richard Heene and Falcon in 2009

Richard Heene and Falcon in 2009 (credit: CBS)

What followed was a media circus. People across the country tuned in to watch live news helicopter video of the balloon floating across northern Colorado and even close to DIA (which led to the airspace closure). It finally came to the ground in a field.

It turned out Falcon was not inside the weather balloon and law enforcement later suggested the ordeal was a hoax.

For many years afterwards, the Heenes denied their part in any hoax. Richard pleaded guilty in November 2009 to a charge of attempting to influence a public servant. A month later, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail.

Richard Heene wound up with a 90-day jail sentence in Larimer County after pleading guilty to a false reporting charge after the

Richard Heene’s mugshot (credit: CBS)

His wife Mayumi received 20 days in jail. The family was ordered to pay $36,000 in fines.

The weather balloon falls to the ground as the Colorado balloon boy saga begins to unwind.

Richard Heene’s balloon lands after its long flight across the skies of north-central Colorado. (credit: CBS)

A year later, the Heenes moved away from Colorado.

A high school playwright wrote a musical that was based on the “Balloon Boy” saga, as it came to be known, and it was staged in Colorado five years ago.


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