The family at the center of a dramatic flight of a hot air balloon that floated free appeared on a reality show that highlighted concerns about the children’s safety.
Richard and Mayumi Heene and their three sons were featured on the ABC show “Wife Swap,” in which the mothers of two often opposite families switch places for two weeks. Mayumi Heene traded places with Karen Martel, whose husband runs a child-proofing business intended to keep children safe, according to a recap posted on Reality TV Magazine. In listing information on the Heene family, ABC’s “Wife Swap” Web site described them as “When the Heene family aren’t chasing storms, they devote their time to scientific experiments that include looking for extraterrestrials and building a research-gathering flying saucer to send into the eye of the storm.” The description of the episode from ABC that appears on the Web site said “[Martel] is shocked as the Heene kids jump off banisters and run wild, and appalled by Richard’s attitude to women.” “Meanwhile at the Martels’, Mayumi Heene sees safety gates everywhere and wonders how the family have fun. She asks the kids about their anxieties and confronts Jay about the climate of fear in his house.” The Heenes reportedly allowed their children to accompany them as they tracked Hurricane Gustov.
6-year-old missing after balloon lands in Colorado
KGMH: Local coverage of boy and balloon
A YouTube video of the family appearing on Denver, Colorado’s KMGH local newscast features two of the Heene sons briefly discussing chasing the Hurricane. “What my kids learn from these storms and what they walk away with is the fact that these storms can be very deadly,” Richard Heene told the KMGH reporter. According to the newscast, the family track 30 to 40 weather activities a year. The family was invited back by ABC to appear on the 100th episode of “Wife Swap,” where Mayumi Heene switched places with Sheree Silver, a psychic. A Los Angeles Times story documented the show by saying “The Heene family, with its three rowdy boys, is anchored by father Richard, whose anger arrives in sudden bolts between his fringe science projects.” “The Silvers, who have two quirky, artistically inclined sons, revolve around the mother, Sheree, who is a psychic and who initially fails to impress Richard. ‘Sheree’s like a clogged drain, OK Things aren’t happening,’ he barks. ‘I’ll bet you the heaviest thing she lifts is the fork to her mouth.’ ” Mayumi Heene reportedly found it difficult on the show to adjust to Silver’s household. “It’s their spouses who struggle most,” the Los Angeles Times story said. “Richard’s wife, Mayumi, finding Sheree’s ‘househusband,’ Sam Castiglia, to be ‘a very feminine husband’ and finds it tough to even tolerate the quirks of the Silver children, who are so unlike her own, seeming less like a parent than a conspirator against the alien family. So much for learning.” A balloon that was set adrift from the Heene’s Fort Collins, Colorado, home was empty when it landed, but authorities said they were searching for one of the Heene sons — who initially had been thought to be in the balloon — on the ground. What appears to be the three Heene boys are featured in YouTube rap music video that seems to spoof overprotective parents.