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Colorado went to huge lengths to save balloon boy Falcon Heene

The National Guard deployed helicopters and Denver airport delayed flights thinking Falcon Heene was in a runaway balloon. He was safe at home the whole time, but many questions remain unanswered.

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Jim Alderden, the sheriff of Larimer County – where the balloon began its voyage – said he didn't want to make a conjecture, but "this is not the first time when we have been involved in searching for some child and once the child realizes people are looking for them, they hide because they're afraid they're going to get in trouble."

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That's precisely what happened, the family said in a news conference. Falcon said he hid in the attic above the garage – playing with toys and even talking a nap – because he was afraid he would be punished by his father, presumably for setting the balloon loose.

But a New York Times blog suggests that "there might have been a bit of collusion among the Heene brothers," to cover up.

Moreover, neighbor Bob Licko told the AP he saw two boys on the roof of the Heene's house with a camera, commenting about their brother.

"One of the boys yelled to me that his brother was way up in the air," Licko said.

The family has been in the spotlight before.

Father Richard has attracted attention locally for being a tornado chaser – and bringing his kids along, something that colleagues have criticized as reckless.

As a science buff, he was apparently building the balloon as a backyard experiment – an activity that seems to have been completely legal.

The family has also been on the ABC show "Wife Swap," in which the wives in two families seen as polar opposites switch roles.

Richard's wife, Mayumi, switched places with a Karen Martel, whose husband runs Childproofers Network of Connecticut. The show's website summarized Martel's experience in the Heene house this way: "[Martel] is shocked as the Heene kids jump off banisters and run wild."

Perhaps today, she is the least shocked person in America.


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