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Dad of 'balloon boy' to sell 'flying saucer' for tsunami victims

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Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 03:09 PM

The father of the now-infamous "balloon boy" is selling a piece of the contraption that launched his family into infamy.

Richard Heene, who now lives in Spring Hill, is auctioning off the "flying saucer" portion of the balloon that captured worldwide attention when it was believed his son Falcon, then 5, was aboard as it floated for hours over Colorado.

The goal?

Raise money for the survivors of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, where his wife, Mayumi, was born.

"We decided to get rid of it through an auction a few months back to help the people of Japan," he said in a telephone interview. "Some folks say why not help locals who got hit by the tornado in Joplin," he said. "It's terrible that 125 people died, but you look at the devastation in Japan, it is incredible."

But there's a big catch. Heene and his wife, who plead guilty to felony charges relating to the 2009 incident that authorities say was a hoax to promote a reality television series, said he is not supposed to profit from the notoriety.

"We ran into legal complications that might get me into trouble," said Heene. "I want to make darn sure no one makes any accusations, so we had to have an agent do it for us."

The first attempt was unsuccessful because he could not meet a California auction house deadline.

So his attorney, Perry H. Rausher, is auctioning it off for him, Heene said.

Heene said he hopes to raise "well into the six figures" for the "flying saucer" which was the lower portion of the balloon device where Falcon was initially thought to have crawled into.

Heene said his son was in and out of the craft four times on the day it launched and all during the time it was aloft, and even several hours after it landed, the family thought Falcon had fallen out. Until he showed up inside the family's house.

"My wife and I were sitting on the couch, cops all around us, and my wife started screaming," said Heene. "She was sitting right next to me and he appeared on her right side. She became overwhelmed. It was amazing."

Heene said he has a "new project" in his garage that he is not yet ready to divulge. Meanwhile, he is selling his Bear Claw wall-mounted back scratcher and working as a contractor fixing homes in the area.

The auction runs through Tuesday. But if you don't want to wait, the auction page – balloonboyflyingsaucer.com – lists a "buy now" price of $1 million.


haltman@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7629

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