Do you believe in UFOs? Unidentified Flying Objects are no mystery. They are just objects in the air that can't be identified. There are plenty of USOs in my house. Unidentified Stationary Objects. Sometimes they can be observed in the refrigerator. Others can be found on the floor near the shower. They remain a mystery only as long as they remain unidentified. The same can be said of their airborne counterparts. Weather balloons or swamp gas, it's always a little sad when a plausible explanation comes along. IFOs are no fun, and neither is that gunk around the edge of the bathtub.
Imagine then, the way the Heene family of Fort Collins, Colorado must feel. When they "aren't chasing storms, they devote their time to scientific experiments that include looking for extraterrestrials and building a research-gathering flying saucer to send into the eye of the storm." That research-gathering flying saucer was identified as a problem on Thursday when it came loose from its mooring with their six-year-old son, Falcon, on board. In a 911 call, the boy's mother, Mayumi Heene, told a dispatcher in a panicked voice that her child was in "a flying saucer." She sobbed and said, "We've got to get my son."
If you were one of the millions who anxiously awaited word on the boy's fate as civilian and military aircraft tracked the silver balloon across two counties, you may have had mixed feelings when you found out that the kid was fine. He was hiding in a box in the attic. Especially when you heard Falcon's explanation for why he had stayed hidden for so long: "You guys (his parents) said that, um, we did this for the show."
What show? The Heenes had already been on ABC's "Wife Swap." Twice. Maybe Falcon was referencing his family's pitch to TLC for their own reality show. Maybe there was some connection to the fact that they were taking home video when the balloon got away, or that dad called the local news channels before the 911 call. This is the world they live in. Add to that the two times Falcon had to be excused to toss his cookies during the next day's media onslaught. Sound like a hoax? Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden told a news conference on Friday that he didn't think so. "We have to operate on what we can prove as a fact and not what people want to be done or what people speculate should be done." That would be a UME: Unconfirmed Media Event.