Final update: Boy found hiding in cardboard box in garage. He is safe and all is well, thank God.
Update at 5:41 PM EST: According to Calgary Herald:
A young boy from a ‘science-obssessed’ family fell from an experimental balloon that had taken off with him aboard, according to reports.
One of Falcon Heene’s brothers is said to have told authorities that he saw his brother fall from the balloon, which took off Thursday morning and reached a height of nearly 8,000 feet before losing helium and coming back to earth.
There was no sign of Falcon when the balloon landed.
A ground search is currently under way around Fort collins, Colorado, where the Heene family live.
Emergency officials have shared a description of the child as being 3 feet tall, wearing a dark blue shirt and blue jeans. According to the Fort Collins Coloradoan, a local resident reported something dropping from the sky near Weld County Roads 41 or 43 and 28.
Update at 5:38 PM EST: According to Teletext:
Rescue teams in the United States are carrying out an intense ground search for Falcon Heene, a six-year-old boy believed to have climbed into a balloon which took off and travelled for 60 miles before landing with no-one on board.
A Colorado sheriff’s official said the boy had climbed into a box attached to the balloon, but the box was not found when the craft landed.
Kathy Messick said one of the boy’s brothers saw him get into the box or basket, which was attached with pegs.
She said search teams were scouring the area from the house in the direction that the balloon flew. She added that investigators were examining every possibility, including whether the boy was ever in the balloon.
Update at 5:31 PM EST: To lift 1 kg, you need about 163 grams of helium.
Lord, have mercy. Please watch over and protect Falcon Heene.
According to MSNBC, the father is saying that part of the compartment is missing.
Update at 2:42 p.m. ET: KUSA TV says the craft is an experimental aircraft that has a large helium balloon attached at their home in Fort Collins.
Click here to link to KUSA’s live webcast of the unfolding incident.
Update at 2:52: p.m. ET: The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports that family and officials say the boy got onto the aircraft and detached the rope holding it in place.
Update at 2:58 p.m. ET: USA TODAY’s Doyle Rice says current winds around Fort Collins are out of the northwest at 14 mph, gusting to 20 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
Update at 3:16 p.m. ET: A Weld County sheriff’s spokesman said a sibling saw the boy climb into the basket before the balloon took off. The door on the balloon was unlocked, so it’s possible the boy had fallen out, she said.
Erik Nilsson, Larimer County Emergency Manager, told CNN affiliate KMGH, “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.”
Update at 3:23 p.m. ET: The Colorado National Guard is sending an OH-58 Kiowa helicopter to try to rescue the boy, the Associated Press says.
The boy was seen climbing into the balloon and unleashing it by his brother. Here is a video of the the landing. Note how small the balloon is. I’m no balloonist, but as a scientist, I don’t see how a homemade balloon of this size could have lifted a 50-pound boy to seven or eight thousand feet.