The Balloon Boy hoax (also known as the Colorado balloon incident or Falcon Heene Hoax) occurred on October 15, 2009, when a six-year-old was mistakenly believed to have floated away in a home-made balloon, attracting world-wide attention. Falcon Heene, of Fort Collins, Colorado, was believed to be traveling at altitudes reaching 7,000 feet (2,100 m) in a homemade helium balloon colored and shaped to resemble a silver flying saucer-type of UFO. Falcon, referred to as the "Balloon Boy" by some media outlets, had reportedly climbed into the balloon, after which it became untethered and launched.
After an hours-long flight that covered more than 50 miles across three counties, the balloon landed about 12 miles (19 km) northeast of Denver International Airport. Authorities closed down the Denver airport, and sent several National Guard helicopters and local police in pursuit. After the balloon landed, and the boy was found not to be inside, authorities began a manhunt of the entire area, raising fears that he had fallen from the balloon; it was reported that an object had detached from the balloon and fallen to the ground. Later that afternoon the boy was eventually reported to have been hiding at his house the entire time. The saga was reported by news networks across the world.
Suspicions soon arose that the incident was a hoax and publicity stunt engineered by the boy's father, Richard Heene, particularly following the Heenes' interview with Wolf Blitzer on Larry King Live that evening. In response to a question about why he was hiding, Falcon said to his father, "You guys said that, um, we did this for the show." On October 18, Larimer County sheriff Jim Alderden announced his conclusion that the incident was a hoax, and that the parents would likely face several felony charges.