They will remember this New Year celebration. The Colorado governor on Thursday pardoned an American couple convicted in 2009 of believing one of their children was in an experimental balloon.
Richard and Mayumi Hein were sentenced to 90 and 20 days in prison, respectively, for the “balloon boy” scam, one of the most famous in modern American history.
They benefited from the apology of Jared Polis, the governor of the western American state, for allegedly inventing the story to make a reality TV deal, believing that his parents had “paid the price” in the eyes of the public.
Traffic has been suspended to avoid a collision
On October 15, 2009, millions of spectators broadcast live the course of a balloon in the shape of a flying saucer for hours, using the camera of a helicopter, when a six-year-old falcon accidentally flew over the edge of a machine.
Traffic at Denver Airport was suspended for fear of colliding with the balloon. When the balloon emptied after flying 110 km, the parents announced that they had found their son hiding in a closet for fear of punishment. Authorities immediately suspected fraud and Mayumi Heen confessed to police.
To be repulsed from prison
At trial, prosecutor Andrew Lewis asked for a prison sentence to deter other adventurers from campaigning. Richard Hein’s lawyer compared the fraud to the legendary 1938 radio show, in which filmmaker Orson Welles believed that Mars was invading Earth and created panic.
Mayumi Heen retorted that she had confessed only out of fear of being deported to her native Japan. The husband also assured in 2019 that they were convinced that their son was in the Falcon balloon.
The family now lives in Florida. After the adventure, Falcon, now a teenager, formed a hard rock group with his two brothers and released the song “Boy in a Balloon, Not a Hawks”, along with a video clip of the UFO balloon.