Friday, October 16, 2009

My Take on the Balloon Boy Escapade

I think the balloon was launched deliberately, most likely by the parents, but possibly by one or two of the other brothers. Maybe they thought to get a bit of news notice just from the balloon flying around; but, I do not think they manufactured the missing child report as part of the balloon launch; seems to have been very genuine. that means their other son was either mistaken, or pulling his own childish prank, in saying Falcon was in the balloon, but my strong sense is that they truly though their son was missing and in the balloon and that was not part of the plan in any way.

What baffles me a bit then is why don't they just admit they launched to balloon deliberately but that the rest of it was a true mistake. I suspect they'd get hit with some fines for interfering with airport traffic but I have to think that fallout would be less damaging than being charged for the whole "rescue effort" because nobody believes anything they say.

UPDATE: Just saw the ABC interview with the family. Here's what appeared to happen based on the interview and home video they showed:

The family was preparing the balloon for a tethered test flight. Parents then go inside for some period of time.

While parents are inside brother observes Falcon crawl under the balloon, go out of sight, and then sees the door to the cargo box close or has been closed. He assumes Falcon went into the balloon; a reasonable assumption give that Falcon had gone into the cargo box before.

Meanwhile Falcon had crawled under the balloon, closed the door and went into the garage out of sight of his brothers. He climbs up into the garage attic via some route neither his brothers or parents knew about and hides in a box. What 6 year old does not have a hiding place that few, if anyone, knows about.

Parents return and release the balloon from a holding frame for a test flight. As seen on home video the tethers either break or were not tied securely and the balloon flies free. Father is angry that balloon got away.

The brother then tells parents he saw Falcon go into the balloon. Parents call 911, officials chase balloon, balloon lands, no one inside. Meanwhile Falcon continues to hid in garage attic.

Eventually police search garage attic and find Falcon. He comes out, sees all the people and cameras, and given he's been exposed to TV shows assumes the balloon was launched as part of some kind of TV show. Again, not unreasonable logic for a 6 year old given his past experiences.

If the event went down something like that, what culpability is there? None that I can reasonably see. You can claim the ropes should have been tied better, the parents should have checked the cargo box, or should have known where all their children are every split-second of the day, but frankly that's all Monday-morning quarterbacking and nanny-state mentality.

Accidents do happen at no fault to anyone. Ropes break, or come untied. People are out of sight for a moment or two. Reasonable, but ultimately false, assumptions are made.

Moral of the story? I don't think there is one, unless to observe that somewhere, someone will second-guess anything; sometimes it's even me.

UPDATE II: I stand corrected. The mother has apparently confessed it was all a stunt. Assuming that's true, then charge 'em up and call DSS.

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