FORT COLLINS. Colo. - Authorities were trying to determine Thursday how to safely bring down a 6-year-old boy who reportedly clambered into his family's experimental balloon aircraft and floated away from home, sheriff's officials said.
The bizarre scene played out live on television and prompted fears that the mushroom-shaped balloon would crash. The balloon rotated slowly in the wind, tipping precariously at times.
The boy's family had been building an experimental aircraft that had a large helium balloon attached to it at their home, KUSA-TV reported. The aircraft, which resembled a flying saucer, was approximately 20 feet by 5 feet and had a foil top.
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On Thursday morning, according to the family and officials, the boy got onto the aircraft and it came loose from a tether. Larimer County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Eloise Campanella said the boy climbed into the access door and the airborne device took off.
Several people in the neighborhood saw the aircraft floating over their homes and some snapped pictures.
"We were sitting eating, out looking where they normally shoot off hot air balloons. My husband said he saw something. It went over our rooftop. Then we saw the big round balloonish thing, it was spinning," said neighbor Lisa Eklund.
Television news helicopters were also tracking the craft, which was last seen floating south of Milliken, about 40 miles north of Denver.
Officials were scrambling to figure out how to rescue the boy. The craft was floating at an elevation of about 2,500 feet.
The craft has the potential to rise to 10,000 feet, Campanella said.
Sheriff's vehicles were tracking the craft from the ground. The Colorado Army National Guard was also preparing to launch an OH-58 Kiowa helicopter to help in the response effort, said Capt. Michael Odgers.
It has landed but no one was found inside. Pray for this kid and his family.