So, it turns out that the Heenes were not the first to get the wise idea about sending your kid up in a balloon to create some kind of media fracas (the mother has confessed, FYI). There was some goofball up my way in the early 1930s who tied his boy, Bill Crawford, to a balloon and sent him 50 feet up in the air to amuse poor people too broke to go to the circus or a local airshow. Dad also did it, as Crawford notes, to get some attention for himself.
In the '30s, kids could work heavy machinery and operate blow torches, so the child welfare laws were obviously pretty lax back in the day. I guess there really is nothing new up under the sun.
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