UPDATE: If you’ve been locked in a meeting without your Blackberry for the past several hours, Falcon Heene is alive and well and did not fly in the balloon across Colorado.
While the 6-year-old boy who was thought to be in a hot air balloon today is a national story, dominating the home pages of CNN, Fox News and Yahoo.com, it’s a local story for stations in the #16 DMA.
KMGH’s thedenverchannel.com reported that the balloon landed without the boy inside of it within minutes of the aircraft reaching ground at around 1:35 local time.
At 1:50 local time, KDVR had a story up saying the boy, Falcon Heene, had floated away in his family’s homemade aircraft, but did not report that the balloon had landed.
It was a tough one for stations to call, as some police reported they were sure the boy was still inside the balloon’s passenger area when it landed near Denver Airport.
Reports KUSA’s Website:
When it landed five miles east of Prospect Reservoir, 9NEWS could not see any child rescued from the basket of the balloon, but earlier police had said they were certain he was still inside.
KCNC’s Website reported that the boy was not in the aircraft when it landed. A story time-stamped 1:52 reports:
The helium balloon that was thought to have been carrying a 6-year-old boy lands in a field near Denver International Airport. The boy was not on board.
The boy apparently climbed into the helium-powered aircraft at his home in Fort Collins. Authorities said it came loose from its tether just after 11 a.m. and he started flying. At 1 p.m. the device was still airborn. [sic]
The Colorado National Guard said they would be launching a helicopter from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora to assist in the rescue effort. The Larimer County Sheriff’s office and the FAA have already been trying to figure out the safest way to get the aircraft to land
I’m not seeing much local video, but KDVR does have a live streaming report with radar. The site says its “Shoutbox” chat function “has exceeded traffic limit”–indicating just how much local (and global) interest there is in the story. KUSA’s home page says there’s an extended noon webcast to cover the story, although I get a “This video stream is now concluded” message when I click on it.
CNN.com actually has some KUSA video from the skies of the balloon in flight, though I did not see the video on the Gannett station’s site. [Update: KUSA has a live stream of a press conference with a spokesperson from the sheriff’s office.] The flying saucer-shaped balloon is really moving.
FoxNews.com has a slide show, and reports that the boy’s family once appeared on ABC’s Wife Swap. Fox News links to KDVR.com, which, by around 2 p.m. local time, did report that the balloon landed without Falcon inside.
It’s noteworthy that McGraw Hill’s KMGH and Gannett’s KUSA started sharing a chopper Feb. 1. Some of the best video shot of the flying balloon came from the joint KMGH-KUSA helicopter.