A mysterious object shot down by US fighter jets amid ongoing hysteria sparked by a Chinese spy balloon may have been a $12 inflatable boat launched by a hobbyist group in Illinois.
The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB) reported that one of its balloons went missing from the same location “in action” – and at the time – a US Air Force jet crashed into an unidentified object near Alaska with a 400,000- Dollar Sidewinder rocket off.
NIBBB said its “K9YO” balloon last reported its location just before 1 a.m. GMT on Saturday, February 11 (8 p.m. EST on February 10) near the coast of Southwest Alaska.
Later Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that an “unidentified object” had been shot down over Canada’s Yukon Territory, several hundred miles from K9YO’s last known location.
Modeling shared by NIBBB shows his balloon was headed towards the Yukon before disappearing – raising the possibility it was one of the suspicious objects shot down by the US military.
Members of the Northern Illinois Bolltlecap Balloon Brigade whose balloon disappeared near the area where an unidentified object was shot down by a fighter jet over Alaska
The hobby balloon’s last known location over Alaska came several hours before a fighter jet crashed into an unidentified object several hundred miles away over Canada. A map of the hobby balloon’s predicted path shows that it was heading for the spot where the UFO was shot down
An unidentified object shot down by US fighter jets using a $400,000 Sidewinder missile may have been a balloon launched by an Illinois-based hobbyist group. It has been speculated that the hobbyist group may have used the balloon pictured above, which retails for under $15
The Chinese spy balloon sparked a diplomatic crisis between Washington and Beijing – and the ensuing hysteria has led to at least three other unidentified objects being shot down
An F-22 (similar to the one pictured in this file photo) later shot down a “cylindrical” metallic object over Mayo, Yukon
The object, downed by a US Air Force F-22 fighter jet over Mayo, Yukon, has been variously described by officials in Canada and the US as a “cylindrical,” metallic balloon with a payload.
Balloons used by hobbyist groups such as NIBBB often fit the same description. They are usually attached to a small, solar-powered payload that transmits location data back to ground-based listening posts. Typically, these payloads are no larger than a credit card.
NIBBB hasn’t said its balloon was definitely the crashed object, but a review of Aviation Week’s circumstantial evidence leaves the possibility wide open.
Far from posing a military or surveillance threat, the “pico balloons” launched by hobbyist groups like NIBBB often do little more than transmit location data – or, in some cases, information about the weather.
They float around until damaged or brought down by bad weather. K9YO was airborne for 123 days and 18 hours before it stopped reporting its location.
During this time it orbited the earth six times.
A model of the hobby balloon’s projected trajectory shows that it was heading towards the Yukon, Canada, where an unidentified object was shot down. The balloon’s last known position is marked with a star, while the red line indicates its predicted path
A fighter jet flies near the remains of the Chinese balloon after being hit by a missile over the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of South Carolina near Myrtle Beach on Saturday, February 4, 2023
It has been speculated that the balloon used for K9YO was a $13.33 32-inch silver Mylar balloon, used primarily for parties and celebrations but sometimes used by hobbyists for high-flying.
Other hobbyists are also speculating that pico balloons could be responsible for some of the mysterious objects that have been spotted over the US since a Chinese spy balloon was spotted earlier this month.
Ron Meadows, the founder of Scientific Balloon Solutions (SBS), which makes balloons used by hobbyists, told Aviation Week: “I’ve been trying to contact our military and the FBI – and just got run around – to try and enlighten them as to what a lot of these things are likely to be. And they won’t look too smart to shoot them down.”
Tom Medlin, host of the Amateur Radio Roundtable Show, said the objects shot down were “probably” pico balloons.
He said he uses a $12 foil balloon for his flights — fitting the Yukon object’s “metallic” description — and they can survive at high altitudes for long periods.
The balloon, which was launched over the Yukon, was at an altitude of about 40,000 feet, officials said. The last known altitude of the NIBBB balloon was 37,928 feet.
The discovery of a Chinese spy balloon over the US led to several more “unidentified” objects being shot down by fighter jets. It is now suspected that at least one of these was a balloon owned by a hobby group in Illinois
President Joe Biden said Thursday he admitted the Yukon object and two other mysterious air objects destroyed by US warplanes since the China balloon incident were not considered surveillance vehicles
President Joe Biden admitted Thursday that the Yukon object and two other mysterious air objects destroyed by US warplanes since the China balloon incident were not considered surveillance vehicles.
“We don’t yet know exactly what those three objects were, but at the moment there’s nothing to suggest they’re linked to China’s spy balloon program or that they’re surveillance vehicles from other countries,” he said.
“The intelligence community’s current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private corporations, recreational or research facilities, studying the weather, or conducting other scientific research.”
Biden was heavily criticized for flying the balloon across the United States before giving the order to shoot it down off the coast of South Carolina on February 4.
On February 10th, an unidentified object was shot down over Alaska. The Yukon incident happened a day later, then on February 12 a third UDO was shot down over Lake Huron in the Midwest.
Military officials and the White House have also not categorically ruled out that aliens could be behind the recent UFO incursions.
National Security Council Coordinator Admiral John Kirby speaks at a White House news briefing following the U.S. launch of a series of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) at the White House February 13, 2023 in Washington, DC
U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 prepare to fly during salvage efforts after the remains of a high-altitude Chinese balloon dropped by the U.S. Air Force off the coast of South Carolina during salvage and survey operations in February was shot down searching for debris November 2023 in this image released by the US Navy in Washington, United States on February 13, 2023
The White House has announced that it will be assembling a new UFO task force to study the potential security risks posed by new flying objects detected in US airspace.
The new group, formed under orders from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, will bring together experts from the Pentagon, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies to analyze unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) and determine if they are are a threat.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday “every element of government will redouble efforts to understand and mitigate these events,” adding the task force will assess the “broader policy ramifications” related to the Detection and analysis of UFOs over the mainland examine US.
The announcement came just a day after a US Air Force F-16 fighter jet shot down a UFO over the Great Lakes – the third unidentified object shot down in as many days.
The UFO narrative was not supported by General Glen VanHerck, head of NORAD and US Northern Command, who would not say aliens were off the table during a Sunday night briefing.