Yesterday we were entertained for a couple of hours by a home-made flying saucer drifting across the Colorado landscape while bumbling Barney Fifes scrambled along back roads trying to keep it in sight and then mucking through a dusty farm field trying to grab ropes to hold it down once it settled. The drama was enhanced by the story of a six-year old aboard the cargo box and in mortal danger. Wow, better than the OJ Simpson slow-speed chase! Hundreds of cops, a handful of police and military helicopters, and even a closure of Denver International Airport. This is huge!
The reality balloon deflated more rapidly than the helium saucer when the boy wasn't aboard. Within minutes he was "discovered" by the parents hiding in the garage rafters of his home. Case solved. Boy saved. Mandatory press conference to milk the maximum coverage called.
There they are, arrayed before the camera, mom, pop and three mop-heads. With a bit more journalistic enthusiasm for tough questions than the typical White House press briefing the father was quickly being skewered with questions about how this all came to pass. Why was he building such a contraption? Not that there's anything illegal about that, but what motivates such an endeavor? Where do you go in your neighborhood to buy a couple of hundred cubic feet of helium and a hundred square yards of Mylar? Does Home Depot carry that sort of thing?
Hoax came up rapidly and daddy took umbrage! Outrageous!
But wait, there's more:
The History of Wife Swap Reality TV
Now, as Paul Harvey would say, you know the rest of the story. There is a long history here and the lure of the limelight seems to have been very active in the background of how a boy becomes fictitiously trapped in a weirdo storm-tracking backyard balloon project.