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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) — In October 2009, the story of “Balloon Boy” was born. Falcon Heene was just 6 years old at the time. While his parents searched high and low for Falcon, he was hiding out in the attic.

The story started on Oct. 15, 2009. For nearly two hours, people around the world feared for Falcon, thinking he was floating somewhere in the sky in a massive helium balloon that looked like a flying saucer.

But that was not the case.

After searching for Falcon, his parents were unsuccessful. His father, Richard Heene, maintains to this day that he believed his son could have been trapped inside the helium balloon.

What was said during the 911 calls about ‘Balloon Boy’

Here is what transpired during the 911 call between a dispatcher and Falcon’s father, Richard:

Dispatcher: “Okay, where was the saucer, was it in the backyard?”
Richard: “Yeah, uh hello?”
Dispatcher: “Yes, is this Richard?”
Richard: “Yes.”
Dispatcher: “Okay, how long has the 6-year-old been missing?”
Richard: “Um, just a few minutes.”
Dispatcher: “So is the flying saucer in the backyard?”
Richard: “Yeah.”
Dispatcher: “Okay, does he have electronics so he knows how to work it if he gets up in the air?”
Richard: “No, he doesn’t know how to operate it.”
Dispatcher: “He does not know how to operate it and that’s gone now too right? Are you sure that he’s in that?”
Richard: “Yeah, we looked everywhere and then my sons just said yeah he went inside the door and then it went off.”
Dispatcher: “Was it running then?”
Richard: “No, it doesn’t run. It’s filled with helium and it operates off a million volts to run horizontal. We were testing it to find out what effect we could get.”

Eventually, the balloon landed 90 miles from the family’s home and Falcon was not inside. He turned up in an attic over the garage.

Many have speculated over the years that the Heenes created the hoax as a publicity stunt.

Heene pleaded guilty to attempting to influence a public servant in November 2009. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution. His wife, Mayumi Heene, was sentenced to 20 days of weekend jail, the Associated Press said.

In 2020, Gov. Jared Polis pardoned Richard and Mayumi.

“Richard and Mayumi have paid the price in the eyes of the public, served their sentences, and it’s time for all of us to move on. It’s time to no longer let a permanent criminal record from the balloon boy saga follow and drag down the parents for the rest of their lives,” Polis said in a statement.

Here is a look back at photographs from the incident:

  • Balloon Boy in 2009
  • Balloon Boy in 2009
  • Balloon Boy in 2009
  • Balloon Boy in 2009
  • Balloon Boy in 2009
  • Balloon Boy in 2009
  • Balloon Boy in 2009
  • Balloon Boy in 2009
  • Balloon Boy in 2009
  • Balloon Boy in 2009

The Heene family moved away from Colorado to Florida in 2010.