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Helicopter Boy

Tuesday, November 03, 2009 - 12:35 AM

In this podcast, a story about a mom, a boy, and a home-made helicopter.

(And no! This has nothing to do with the Balloon Boy incident.) Instead, it's about how public radio...literally saved a boy's life. Well, not quite. But sorta. Kinda. It's a story about why we do what we do: we're trying to tell stories that move you and make you feel different about the world, even just a little bit.

Please support us in that mission.


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Comments [33]

Lovely story.

Jun. 25 2014 11:28 AM
Angela from Charleston, SC

Jad - would you be willing to offer a service where we parents can get all of our favorite lectures remixed Radiolab style? Surely topics like "How would you feel if someone did that to you?" and "Wash your hands after you go to the bathroom" are ripe with possibilities.
I would gladly double my yearly public radio contribution just to have one of those on hand...

Jun. 17 2014 02:58 PM
Lillian Garcia from Eugene, Oregon

I have been working a very boring, dead end job to help get me through these next 4 years of college. I sit in front of a computer screen for 5-8 hours a day just entering data for thousands of companies on to spread sheets. The silence in the office, the hum of the monitor, and the incandescent clicking of the keyboard made me literally scream from insanity one day. I could not take the boredom anymore and then I discovered Radio Lab. Now my whole day is significantly more productive knowing that with each passing hour I get to listen to a new episode of Radio Lab. I am eager to get to work and explore a facet of this beautiful universe that I have never thought about before. This program has helped me steer away from the 3 hours of "How I Met Your Mother" reruns I used to watch on Netflix every night after work. I actually put my TV in a different and set up a stereo system with speakers loud enough to hear the Radio Lab programs over all the street noise in this college town. I do not want to miss a word. I find myself reading more, learning material quicker in class, and just generally thirsting for knowledge. I love it and I am so thankful this exists and others enjoy it as much as I do. THANK YOU RADIO LAB!

Jul. 09 2013 06:01 PM

there seems to be an issue with the download. I am only getting the first miniute of the podcast.


Mar. 28 2012 01:26 PM
Jennifer Babb from Bend, Oregon

At the end of this episode, Jad gives advice to an 8yo boy in his Radiolab-ified way. A few months after this aired, Helicopter Boy's uncle gave similar advice -- in the form of a song. (This uncle, Jason Greene, writes and performs children's music.) The song is on their just-released album; it's called "I Can Fly."

Jad, I thought you'd love that. From a blog post to a Radiolab episode to a song on an album: an event presented 3 ways!

Best, the Helicopter Boy's mom

Aug. 04 2011 01:06 PM

In this program, the mother wrote to you that RadioLab had "saved" her son's life. I thought I'd tell you that RadioLab has kind of "saved' my life, too! Like alot of people in this economy, I have to drive 3 hours each day to work, turning my life into a harsh expanse of concrete and cars. No more time for soul-nourishing things- playing the fiddle with my boyfriend, kayaking under the stars, tai chi or meditation. I'm locked into a life of driving and working. But RadioLab has freed my mind, my imagination. I'm learning and growing again in other ways, by listening to podcasts as I drive. My boyfriend has started to listen even though we don't get to see eachother much now, when we do, we have so much radiolab to talk about! Thanks for "saving" my life and my relationship!

Jun. 06 2011 06:10 PM
Dan Clark from Detroit

I promise, one day when I'm stinking rich, I will donate so much to your efforts!

Dec. 06 2010 02:58 PM

Neat story, but it should've been condensed to about half of it's length...

Sep. 27 2010 06:20 PM

Beautiful story... I love that little boy. Cheers and thank you for all the amazing, addictive shows you create on Radiolab!!

Jul. 14 2010 12:17 AM
Poor Lori

Correction, Thomas Edison and his employees at Menlo Park experimented an estimated 10,000 times with different types of filaments in order to create a long lasting electric Light Bulb and not for BATTERIES. Your production staff should have been able to correct such a glaring error made by Jad.

I will consider supporting your show in any case, as you all do such wonderful entertaining and educational work. Thank you.

Mar. 06 2010 09:46 AM

Thanks so much Mattias! I've been scouring the internet for that song since the first day they released the short.

Jan. 07 2010 02:50 PM

brilliant. i've listened to radiolab for years, and that story got me to sign on & post & donate. you guys are brilliant; thanks.

Nov. 19 2009 11:18 PM

If I jump out of a tree, can Robert and Jad make a cool techno lecture for me, too? So jealous of Blake right now. :)

Nov. 19 2009 12:10 AM

i loved this short! i've spent the last couple of years working with elementary school kids (as environmental educator and substitute teacher) and one of my favorite things to do is to tell stories to groups. i love radiolab's storytelling!

with that said, i didn't feel that the re-mixed lecture totally got the point across that if the worst consequence is bad enough, you shouldn't do that particular experiment - you need to modify the experiment so the bad consequence is less bad, acceptably bad, or maybe just not do it at all. it's kind of said in adult language with the "mitigating" the bad things that may happen, but i don't think it's explicitly said in kid-friendly language.

thank you for what you do - moving us and keeping us still and sometimes both at the same time!

Nov. 11 2009 02:21 PM
Lulu Bee

It is my belief that if the stifled, draconian educational system (at least the NYC public schools) started to incorporate new technologies (that means we need more creative (such as listening to pod casts)teachers and administration) in teaching our children, we would produce much smarter, creative thinkers! We all need to incoporate and embrace these technologies!

I have donated to Radio Lab and I also tell anyone I can get my hands on to LISTEN to the pod casts.

Nov. 10 2009 11:17 AM

I know what song is playing at the end!

Its: Max Richter - Horizon Variations

A wonderful song! The album is called: "The Blue Notebooks".

Nov. 10 2009 06:10 AM

Beyond money, spreading Radiolab to other people and seeing it take hold in their hearts and minds is among the more deeply satisfying forms of support I've had the pleasure to experience. In adults it reopens that childlike wonder that Blake exhibits, and lets us share in your mission to spread this open approach to thought.

Nov. 09 2009 08:27 PM

Blake is great! Thanks to Blake's mom Jennifer and to Radio Lab for telling this little story.

Nov. 09 2009 01:41 PM
Brett Williams

Thanks Grinch, I mean 'spiggig.' You don't have 'kids' do you? Were you ever a 'kid' or were you grown in a pod? Geesh, give it a rest, some studies and tons of corellary evidence certainly show that memories are more strongly laid down during times of stress but I hardly think it's neccessary for you to come and pee in our pool, especially with your annonymous 'bout a real name? As a parent, I simply enjoyed and related to the presentation. Yeah, it's a science show but it's also much more than that. Bah humbug to you too!

Nov. 09 2009 01:23 AM

I'm curious if you know how Blake responded to the radiolabified lecture resonated with him? Maybe you could give us an update during the next podcast or short.

Nov. 06 2009 05:14 PM
Knuckles Lively

So, 2 things. What is the official word on the end music? And what do I do, now that I have caught up to the current radiolab? I have been burning up two or three of these every day, and now I am starting to "jones" a little, any suggestions?

Nov. 06 2009 04:45 AM

Could you send that "think things through" recording to Wall Street? Any maybe Congress while you're at it? Much obliged,

Nov. 06 2009 01:27 AM

I've had to stop listening to Radio Lab while at work for a similar reason! When listening I almost never work——I just end up staring out the window contemplating all the fabulous things being discussed. It's just about the only time I sit still, too.

Nov. 05 2009 01:49 PM

Another ear desiring to know from whom the music at the end of the broadcast comes. A delightful short!

Nov. 05 2009 09:51 AM

I just came to find out the song at the end as well. Ha! One more person is very curious.

Nov. 04 2009 04:37 PM

I would also love to know! I think the one at the end and the one at 11:33 are two different pieces, Matt. Has anyone figured out what the ending song is?

Nov. 04 2009 03:20 PM

The Music that starts up at 11:33 in the podcast is Filming by John Zorn from "Film Works, Vol. 10: In the Mirror of Maya Deren"

Nov. 04 2009 10:28 AM
Veracity McGee

Just came to ask the same question Leah D did? Anyone have any info on the piano music at the end? Thanks and cheers!

Nov. 03 2009 11:33 PM
Leah D

Who is playing the BEAUTIFUL piano music at the end of this short?

Nov. 03 2009 04:39 PM

Wonderful story. I think there were two things that could have been touched on more.

The first being that Radio Lab wonderfully appeals to the Visual-thinkers among us, despite being confined to our ears. They do such a great job that, while I listen to the stories, I can see in my mind the ideas being presented. This sticks in my mind better because I feel like I've seen it, and more lectures & presentations should incorporate visual props (or audio props that are vivid enough to work as visual props) to get their point across so that it sticks in the mind better.

The second is that I know I've read somewhere that children relate better to the past than the future; they are much better at remembering what happened last time than predicting what will happen in the future. So instead of saying "what do you think will happen if you jump out of the tree?" you have to ask "what happened last time, when you jumped off the fence?" first, in order to help the child make better predictions.

Nov. 03 2009 03:46 PM
Donovan Wadholm

The first part of your "lecture" remix was very DJ Dangermouse-like. Maybe you will have a music service someday as a sideline...?

The boy is exactly like my 9 year old who struggles in some social setting, is very inventive, loves Radiolab (and This American Life) and remembers segments verbatim.

Nov. 03 2009 03:28 PM

Not only is it about the importance of supporting public radio, but in about 15 minutes it manages to be about:

the emotional power of storytelling,
the inquisitiveness of the innocent, wild-eyed of youth,
the value of oft-ignored parental advice,
the pervasiveness of memory,
the worth of scientific rigor, analysis, patience, and perseverance,
the beautiful harmony of curiosity and foresight,
and parasitic wasps.

I am going to donate now.

Nov. 03 2009 02:32 PM

I think it's possible that the kid remembered so much of the podcast about parasites because he was in pain at the time. My evidence:

Nov. 03 2009 01:11 PM

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