A 6-year-old boy, who was feared adrift in a wayward homemade helium balloon, was found safe in his home after a massive search Thursday afternoon.
The discovery ended a nerve-racking four-hour chase and hunt that began because authorities and family members believed that Falcon Heene accidentally lifted off in the family's silver saucer-shaped weather balloon when it became untethered from their Fort Collins back yard.
"The father and son had apparently been working on the aircraft for some time.
Airtracker 7 located the craft at 12:35 p.m. at about 8,000 feet in Weld County. It appeared to be slightly tilted. The altitude of the balloon was fluctuating between 7,500 and 8,500 feet.
"The structure at the bottom of the balloon that the boy is in is made of extremely thin plywood and won't withstand any kind of a crash at all," said Erik Nilsson, Larimer County Emergency Manager.
Deputies from Larimer and Weld counties are tracking the balloon as it drifts. Experts said it could remain airborne for up to 12 hours.
FAA spokesman Mike Fergus said the agency has been notified and it was unclear whether traffic controllers had picked it up on radar.
The balloon may drift into air traffic control corridors used by Denver International Airport, based on its current location and direction."