Did the US Air Force just use an F-22 fighter jet, and a sidewinder missile to destroy a $13 Hobby balloon?

By Jo Nova

It’s unconfirmed, but there’s a small possibility that the US Commander in Chief used an Air Force F-22 fighter jet that costs $80,000 an hour to launch a $400,000 sidewinder missile to shoot down what might have been a $13 hobby balloon.

President Biden has been industriously shooting down balloons, almost as if he is trying to distract everyone from noticing how slow he was to deal with the Communist Party balloon, or the Pfizergate video, and the Nordstream leak, or something  else. But no one is quite certain what they’ve shot down.

Meanwhile a hobby group called The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB) have sadly reported their K9YO balloon has stopped sending messages. The K9YO picoballoon had been aloft for 123 days and was on its sixth lap of the world. It was last heard from at around 37,928 feet, south of Alaska and headed towards the Yukon. Whatever the mystery object was that got shot down was described as “foil” at 40,000 feet, so it’s in the right ballpark, but it’s still a big sky.

After all the attention starting to grow on this the NIBBB has clarified that  even though they expected to hear from the balloon last Saturday it has dropped out of communication before and for as long as thirty days. It may well reappear. It uses a small solar panel to send messages and can’t send messages at night, or in the dark.

Naturally, there’s no official confirmation, but  there probably never will be if the US Air force just wasted half a million dollars to destroy a party balloon.

This opens a new front in warfare. If an adversary releases enough pico-balloons, the US Airforce could run out of money and missiles…

If it wasn’t K9YO, what was it, and will we ever find out? Whatever it was, the rumour that it might have been a party balloon will surely stop the blitzkrieg. It rather takes the fun out of the PR. Big man Biden just blew up a helium balloon?

The bigger question is why this performance art from Biden and the media was going on in the first place?


Modeling shared by NIBBB shows its balloon was headed in the direction of Yukon before it vanished – and opens up the possibility it was one of the suspicious objects down by the U.S. military.

The object shot down by a a U.S. Air Force F-22 fighter jet over Mayo, Yukon, was variously described by officials in Canada and the U.S. as a ‘cylindrical’, metallic balloon with a payload.

Balloons used by hobby groups like NIBBB often fit the same description. They are usually attached with a small, solar-powered payload that transmits location data back to listening posts on the ground. Typically, these payloads are no larger than a credit card.

NIBBB has not said its balloon was definitely the downed object, but an overview of the circumstantial evidence by Aviation Week leaves the possibility wide open.

For those who want the nerdy technical detail on picoballoon flights:

However there is also the simpler ‘pico’ ballooning hobby, which involves the use of mylar helium party balloons to launch small solar powered payloads that are only a few grams in weight. They typically transmit low power WSPR at HF frequencies and can only transmit whenever there is sufficient solar power available. Amateur radio or SDR hobbyist stations around the world can pick up these transmissions, and report them on amateur.sondehub.org and/or wsprnet.org. Well built balloons can totally circumnavigate the globe several times over several months before degrading.

While termed ‘pico’, the party balloons used can still be roughly a meter in diameter on the ground, with some latex balloons potentially expanding further at high altitudes due to the low atmospheric pressure. These balloons can be legally launched from almost anywhere in the world. In particular in the USA there is no FAA clearance required to launch them due to their payload being much less than the limit of 4 lbs (1.8kg).

K9YO projected location at the time the object was shot down.

K9YO projected location at the time the object was shot down. https://ift.tt/VBMNacq

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via JoNova


February 17, 2023 at 03:05PM

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