"Large White Balloon" Spotted Near Hawaii
A number of airborne objects have been shot down this month, including a Chinese surveillance balloon. New reports indicate this balloon fad might not be over.
The Drive reported a large white balloon was spotted by commercial pilots about 600 miles east of the Hawaiian Islands on Monday. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has notified pilots in the area about the sightings of a balloon traveling at an altitude of 40,000 and 50,000 feet.
A “Large White Balloon” has been spotted by Airliners 524 nautical miles NE of Honolulu and ATC is asking if anyone sees it. 🎈👀 0100 Zulu via @thebaldgeek and @InfantryPilot pic.twitter.com/RxdiiQGU1X— Thenewarea51 (@thenewarea51) February 20, 2023
"Subsequent ACARS (Aircraft Communications, Addressing and Reporting System) messages show aircraft in the area — which is normally quite busy as it sits on the route from the US west coast to Hawaii — acknowledging the alert, which includes a request to report back if they spot any such object," The Drive said.
The FAA first broadcasted reports about a balloon to pilots around 0746 local time in Hawaii. It's unclear when the FAA received the first report of the balloon or if the military was tracking the object.
One forecast model via the National Weather Service shows the potential path of the balloon.
Putting this potential balloon at 45k feet (avg of the reported height between FL400-500) and running NOAA's HYSPLIT model shows a very interesting future trajectory over the next 48 hours for an object being steered by the wind. Right over Hawaii. https://t.co/WZPqlSQaPC pic.twitter.com/OjNyoWnmpi— IntelWalrus (@IntelWalrus) February 20, 2023
There were reports a Navy P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft was heading in the general direction of the ballon though there's no confirmation if that's the intended target.
I can’t say it’s related, but a BUPERS SDC Dallas Boeing P-8 “SHINR02” launched from Honolulu around 0230 Zulu and went “Due Regard” flying in the direction of the reported balloon 🤔🤷🏻♂️ H/T @nameyousir and @Stalsomething for the heads up. Audio https://t.co/A4HpPcWVyn… https://t.co/a9cYKZws0o pic.twitter.com/hl0hIHdtqx— Thenewarea51 (@thenewarea51) February 20, 2023
Nobody knows who owns the balloon or if the object is a threat.
This comes a few days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with China's top diplomat Wang Yi, in the first face-to-face meeting between high-ranking US and Chinese officials since the US military downed a Chinese spy balloon earlier this month. And one week after, other unidentified objects were shot down, including what some believe to be a $12 hobbyist balloon.