Hobbyists Fear ‘UFO’ Shot Down By US Military Might Have Been One Of Their Balloons

[Screenshot/YouTube/CBS Chicago]

Font Size:

Balloon enthusiasts in Illinois fear one of the unidentified objects shot down by the United States military near Alaska on Feb. 11 was one of their own.

The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade, a group of hobbyists ranging from 11-years-old and up, is missing a balloon. While the group is not making any accusations, it fears the U.S. military shot it down, Aviation Week reported. The brigade’s silver coated “pico balloon”, which it had been tracking via ham radio, disappeared mysteriously off the west coast of Alaska the same day an F-22 shot down an unidentified object in the same area , the outlet stated.

Far from having nefarious purposes, the balloon brigade’s hobby involves the enthusiasts tracking a balloon’s movement as it makes its way across the country and sometimes even the world. The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade boasts 25 balloons, eight of which crossed the nation and three that almost spanned the globe. To do this, the club uses inexpensive pico balloons, ranging in cost from $12-180, and tether it with a GPS tracking device, the outlet stated. From there, the balloon broadcasts its position through HF and VHF/UHF radio links using amateur radio software known as WSPR, the outlet stated. (RELATED: ‘We Learned Nothing’: Senators Still In The Dark On Aerial Object Takedowns After Classified Intel Briefing)

“I tried contacting our military and the FBI — and just got the runaround — to try to enlighten them on what a lot of these things probably are. And they’re going to look not too intelligent to be shooting them down,” Ron Meadows, the founder of Scientific Balloon Solutions, a company that makes pico balloons for hobbyists, educators and scientists, told the outlet.

Though the hobbyists’ balloons are benign in purpose, the altitude they can reach, that of 20,000-40,000 feet, interferes with civil aviation, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Feb 15, the outlet stated.

“We did assess that their altitudes were considerably lower than the Chinese high-altitude balloon and did pose a threat to civilian commercial air traffic. And while we have no specific reason to suspect that they were conducting surveillance of any kind, we couldn’t rule that out,” Kirby said of the downed objects.