I had the reverse Mandella effect. When everybody was talking about the Chinese spy balloon over America, I mentioned "balloon boy" from the late 2000s. People looked at me like I was making it up. So here's the story you can bring it up when you're friends are talking about international relations with the People's Republic of China.
In 2009, the entire country was glued to their TVs as we feared for the life of a Colorado boy who snuck into a homemade (and experimental) balloon his father made... and it took off. The family couldn't account for their son Falcon and said they believed he crawled into the balloon. The call to the dispatcher was as follows:
Dispatcher: “Okay, where was the saucer, was it in the backyard?”
Richard: “Yeah, uh hello?”
Dispatcher: “Yes, is this Richard?”
Dispatcher: “Okay, how long has the 6-year-old been missing?”
Richard: “Um, just a few minutes.”
Dispatcher: “So is the flying saucer in the backyard?”
Dispatcher: “Okay, does he have electronics so he knows how to work it if he gets up in the air?”
Richard: “No, he doesn’t know how to operate it.”
Dispatcher: “He does not know how to operate it and that’s gone now too right? Are you sure that he’s in that?”
Richard: “Yeah, we looked everywhere and then my sons just said yeah he went inside the door and then it went off.”
Dispatcher: “Was it running then?”
Richard: “No, it doesn’t run. It’s filled with helium and it operates off a million volts to run horizontal. We were testing it to find out what effect we could get.”
Live feeds from helicopters showed the balloon flying over Colorado. America spent 2 tense hours fearing the balloon would go higher and leave the child with no oxygen, or worse, drop the boy to his death.
The balloon landed 90 miles away from his home and authorities discovered the boy was not inside. As it turns out, Falcon was hiding in his parent's attic. Although his parent's maintained it wasn't a hoax, his parents pled guilty to "influencing a public servant". Richard and Mayumi Heene spent 90 days and 20 days in jail, respectively. They also were forced to pay $36,000 in restitution for wasting the authority's money trying to rescue the child.
The kid blew it for his parent's hoax when he admitted on CNN that "we did it" and he didn't come out of the attic because his parents told him not to.