Amateur pilots instead of aliens or China: After the shooting down of three flying objects in the north of the USA, a hobby group could provide the right tip.
It is still not clear what type of aircraft the American Air Force shot down in the Yukon, over Alaska and Lake Huron last weekend. US President Joe Biden also had no news on Thursday. “Most likely,” however, it was balloons, according to Biden. An assumption that could now be substantiated by the information from a balloon club: The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade has lost one of its flying objects.
This is what the club for amateur pilots writes in a blog entry that was first reported by the aviation magazine “Aviation Week”. Accordingly, a balloon from the “missing in action” club has disappeared in action, and that in the same region where the US military had brought the three unknown flying objects out of the sky. According to their own statements, the amateur pilots last had radio contact with their balloon on the night from Friday to Saturday when their aircraft was moving along an uninhabited island in Alaska.
The balloon is a so-called pico balloon that is filled with hydrogen, carries a GPS transmitter and can fly at altitudes of around 14 kilometers. These balloons are popular with amateur clubs and hobbyists.
Times and places indicate connection
According to “Aviation Week”, this information matches the time, altitude and location information that the Air Force has published for the use of a “Sidewinder” missile by an F-22 class air fighter: On Saturday morning, it shot down a car-sized flying object over the Yukon .
However, it is difficult to determine whether it was actually the Illinois hobby pilot’s balloon: According to Canadian officials, the debris is in a very remote area covered by ice and snow. It is therefore difficult to salvage them for analysis.
Before it disappeared, the amateur pilot’s balloon had been on the road for more than 123 days. The group has not yet expressed any explicit assumptions about a connection between their loss and the military shooting down. However, according to a spokeswoman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, available to the US media “Politico”, there is contact between the balloon club and the FBI: “As far as I know, the FBI has spoken to this hobby group and I expect that the task force [des Nationalen Sicherheitsrats] learn more about the possible identification of the objects.”
Balloon fans see connection
Among balloon enthusiasts, it is entirely possible that the events are related. “I suspect they were probably pico balloons,” Tom Medlin told Aviation Week. Medlin is currently flying three pico balloons in the northern and southern hemispheres. Ron Meadows, pico-balloon maker and founder of Scientific Balloon Solutions, told the magazine, “I’ve tried to contact the military and the FBI myself to tell them what these things are likely to be. But I was only… They’re not going to look very good when it turns out they [Pico-Ballons] shot down”.
Neither the US Air Force nor the FBI have commented on the properties of the flying objects.