Bay Area's "Balloon Boy" Not Full of Hot Air

Nickname sticks after all these years

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Josh Keppel
    But the Bay Area has a Balloon Boy of its own -- one who was actually accidentally attached to a hot air balloon when it went airborne.

    The bizarre story of Colorado's "Balloon Boy" captivated the TV world last week. And the story just keeps getting weirder.

    The one thing we all know about the kid is that he wasn't even in the balloon when it went wayard over the plains. So, calling Falcon Heene the "Balloon Boy" is somewhat of a lie, although it has a certain ring to it.

    But the Bay Area has a Balloon Boy of its own -- one who was actually accidentally attached to a hot air balloon when it went airborne.

    Dan Nowell was 11 in 1964 when he volunteered to help launch a hot air balloon in Mill Valley.  But, when it lifted off, he went with it -- attached to the aircraft via a rope. He tried to cut himself free with a pocket knife. But it didn't work. For 10 minutes, Nowell hung from the rope as the balloonist controlled the craft, unaware of his roped passenger.

    "I couldn't have let go if I had wanted to," Nowell told the Chronicle. "It was almost like a dreamlike experience. As the people on the ground got smaller and smaller, all I wanted was to do anything I could to relieve the pain."

    Nowell was pretty seriously hurt when the balloon landed. He recovered but says he still can't shake the "balloon boy" moniker, even after all these years.

    There's something young Falcon has to look forward to, even if the story was full of hot air.