It will surely be one of the strangest tales of 2009: as the world watched in horror, authorities in northern Colorado chased down a runaway helium balloon believed to have been carrying 6-year-old Falcon Heene up as high as 6,000 ft. The horror turned to relief when it was revealed that young Falcon hadn't taken flight but was instead hiding in his parents' attic and then to outrage once suspicions were raised that the Heene family had concocted the tale of the flyaway child in a bid for reality-show fame. The Larimer County sheriff's office now says that the elaborate hoax which sparked a major search and temporarily shut down Denver International Airport as some planes were rerouted may have been part of a plan by the family to gain enough exposure to launch a reality TV show; the Heenes have produced several amateur YouTube videos and previously appeared on the ABC reality series Wife Swap. With Richard Heene and his wife Mayumi facing up to six years in prison and a $500,000 fine, the reality could be that the Heenes have gained more fame than they bargained for.
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