Balloon boy's father 'planned weather balloon UFO stunt'

The father of "balloon boy" Falcon Heene had previously discussed a plan to fake a UFO sighting using a weather balloon, a former friend has claimed.

The Telegraph, UK/October 18, 2009

Richard Heene was so obsessed with kick-starting his reality television career that he devised an alien hoax that would be "bigger than Roswell", according to a confidant.

Robert Thomas, a fellow science enthusiast and former business associate of Mr Heene, sold his story to the gossip website Gawker as police prepare to charge members of the Heene family over the runaway balloon flight that gripped the US on Thursday.

America was captivated after six-year-old Falcon vanished on an experimental, flying saucer-shaped balloon his father had built in his yard. The boy was found five hours after it took off hiding in his parents' garage in Fort Collins, Colorado, sparking claims that it was all an elaborate stunt.

Mr Thomas described Mr Heene as "driven by ego and fame", saying that their shared ambition of creating a television series based around madcap science experiments went awry as the father-of-three's ideas became "extreme and paranoid".

He told Gawker: "Richard said, 'how much do you want to bet we could facilitate some sort of a media stunt that would be equally profound as Roswell, and we could do so with nothing more than a weather balloon and some controversy?'"

A television show pitch allegedly composed by Mr Thomas based on ideas brainstormed by Mr Heene suggested releasing a homemade, electrically-charged flying saucer to attract other UFOs.

"We will capture the footage on film, and will utilize the media as a means with which to make our presence known to the masses," it read.

"This will not only provide us with incredible footage, but will also generate a tremendous amount of controversy among the public, as well as publicity within the mainstream media."

"This will be the most significant UFO-related news event to take place since the Roswell Crash of 1947, and the result will be a dramatic increase in local and national awareness about The Heene Family, our Reality Series, as well as the UFO Phenomenon in general."

Mr Thomas also denied that Falcon could have climbed into the garage loft where he was eventually discovered without the assistance of an adult.

Yesterday it emerged that Mr Heene called a TV news station that had a helicopter before contacting emergency services after the boy "drifted off" in the balloon. He has denied that the alert was a hoax.

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