- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 15, 2009

DENVER — A 6-year-old Colorado boy who was thought to have flown off in a homemade helium balloon Thursday afternoon was found safe in his family’s attic shortly before authorities were slated to launch a massive evening search for his body.

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden gave a thumbs-up signal to reporters at a news conference at the family’s home in Fort Collins after learning that the boy, Falcon Heene, had actually been hiding in his attic during the time his saga had gripped the nation via cable-news footage and quick updates at social-networking sites.

Police said Falcon had been playing in the yard when his brother saw him crawl into a box attached underneath the aircraft. The helium-filled craft, built by his father, an amateur meterologist and storm-chaser, then flew into the air.

The balloon flew about 50 miles over the course of the next three hours at an altitude of 15,000 to 16,000 feet before it landed softly northeast of Denver International Airport. Authorities rushed to the aircraft to rescue the boy, but found he wasn’t there.

A Weld County sheriff’s deputy said he thought he saw something fall from the balloon near the town of Platteville, prompting speculation that the box or the boy may have dropped off the craft as it began leaking helium during its slow descent.