Thu 15 Oct, 2009 12:51 pm
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) " A 6-year-old boy climbed into a hot-air balloon aircraft and floated away Thursday, forcing officials to scramble to figure out how to rescue the boy.
Larimer County sheriff's spokeswoman Eloise Campanella says the device, which is shaped like a flying saucer, has the potential to rise to 10,000 feet. Sheriff's officials last saw the device floating south of Milliken, which is about 40 miles north of Denver.
Campanella says the 6-year-old climbed into the access door and was in the airborne device.
FAA spokesman Mike Fergus says the agency has been notified and it was unclear whether traffic controllers had picked it up on radar.
Additional details were not immediately available.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
Aviation Expert Greg Feith spoke to 9NEWS about the process of rescuing the boy.
"It is an unusual event and the big thing now is trying to get that child down from this balloon. It's all going to depend on of course the environment. It's windy outside so it's going to keep it adrift for quite a while. The helium, depending on the size of this thing, if it ran into very cold air, it may help it come down as you know if you let a helium balloon go the higher it gets it'll stagnate only because of the cold air," Feith said.
Feith added that without knowing the structural integrity of the aircraft it is difficult to know how it will withstand any turbulence.
"The other key here is the structural integrity. Not knowing how it's constructed and given the fact that we do have these wind conditions which of course create turbulence we don't know how much turbulence this airship, if you will, can actually withstand so there's a lot of external factors here," he added.
Feith says the military will likely be needed to help with this rescue effort as they are familiar with creative uses of aircrafts to rescue soldiers from difficult locations.
"In the past [the military has] launched helium balloons to pull guys out of the woods when they've been shot down. Other than that I think they're going to have to let the forces of nature and hopefully a lot of luck bring this airship down safely."
I hoped to read an entertaining story with a happy ending... but no ending yet. How scary. Hope this does end well...
(Would oxygen deprivation be a problem at his altitude?)
I have been at 8 thousand feet without oxygen, but this balloon can get to 10,000. I don't know how the air is that high.
The helium is beginning to leak out. It's looking a bit lopsided.
Kid's name is Falcon evidently... no school today.
Older brother was out there with him, not the parents.
The baloon is looking droopy.
Oh, horrible... they're saying now that the boy not be on board anymore because of how little weight there seems to be in the basket... (a 6-yr-old is light, though...)
listing badly to one side.
Now they're saying the brother may have seen him fall out... but not clear where... as in if he's OK or not (right at the beginning, or what).
It doesn't seem like it could've been at the beginning, does it? The family would know, and it would be clear whether he's in the balloon or not.
I have no words for how appalling this is.
Only 1,000 feet off the ground now!
No confirmation that he's on board.
oh my.... Channel 9 has an MD on who said that if he's only breathing helium then he would have suffocated within minutes.
Oh no... why would he only be breathing helium though? No air source?
900 feet. At least it seems gradual.
They don't know if it's a separate compartment or all one unit. MD suggested someone ask the dad.