The two-hour flight prompts the FAA to probe the "particularly peculiar" case for regulatory violations

By Vickie Bane
Updated October 20, 2009 03:15 PM

It’s not every day the Federal Aviation Administration has to consider the flight of a silver UFO-looking helium balloon.

“This is unusual,” acknowledges Mike Fergus, spokesman for the FAA in Washington state, which opened an investigation into the two-hour balloon flight in FAA-monitored airspace. “But we investigate any air incident. The investigation is solely focusing on if we had any violations of our regulatory authority or regulations.”

Fergus says he is not at liberty to discuss specifics, nor can he guess as to when the probe will be complete. He says the FAA can only file civil charges if a violation did take place.

VIDEO: Ex-Colleague Says Richard Heene Planned Balloon Hoax
“This is a particularly peculiar [case],” says Fergus, “so I wouldn’t even venture a guess what our legal department would do if it is found there was a violation.”

During the two-hour flight of the balloon on Oct. 15 – feared then to be carrying 6-year-old Falcon Heene of Fort Collins – it crossed through air space above both Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport and Denver International Airport (DIA). In the case of DIA, northbound plane departures were delayed for less than half-an-hour.

Local authorities also opened a criminal investigation, and Falcon’s parents Richard and Mayumi Heene are expected to surrender to face possible felony charges of trying to influence a public official and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.