Was a missing boy ever on board? Apparently not.
In a bizarre spectacle televised live, a homemade balloon lifted off from a Ft. Collins, Colo., home Thursday and sailed for two hours and more than 60 miles before softly landing in a field.
But contrary to initial reports that 6-year-old Falcon Heene – the son of a thrill-seeking reality show couple – had climbed into the helium-filled and released the rope holding it to the ground, it now seems he was at home all along – hiding in the attic of his family's garage.
"This couldn't have been a happier outcome," said Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden after the boy was found late in the afternoon.
Speaking to reporters on the lawn of the family's house, Richard Heene said that Falcon had become frightened after he yelled at him for playing too close to a box containing the battery of an experimental aircraft Richard was building. "My biggest fear was the he would become electrocuted," Richard explained.
Falcon then apparently went back into the house and hid out in the garage – and remained in hiding when he saw TV trucks pull up outide the house.
"He always the last in line but he's always the first up a ladder," Richard said of his adventurous son.
During an afternoon filled with drama, the silver balloon flew thousands of feet high and was chased by news helicopters as TV viewers everywhere watched and wondered about the young boy's fate.
The ABC television network confirms that Falcon is the son of Richard and Mayumi Heene, who appeared on Wife Swap. The couple also has two other sons, Bradford and Ryo.
Asked if he would punish his son for causing so much concern, Richard said, "This was a relief. We are going to watch him a lot closer now."
Reporting by VICKIE BANE