Illinois Hobby Club Believes Pentagon Shot Down Their $12 Pico Balloon

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Feb 17, 2023 - 11:35 PM

After the Pentagon dispatched fighter jets to shoot down unidentified objects on February 10, 11, and 12 utilizing heat-seeking AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles at over $400,000 a pop, President Biden belatedly admitted that they could just be harmless weather balloons

"The intelligence community’s current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation, or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research," Biden said Thursday. But now an Illinois-based hobby group which uses $12 balloons with ham radios for a cheap high-altitude hobby says the object shot down over Yukon Territory on Feb. 11 likely belongs to them. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden also sees this as the likely scenario...

A report in Aviation Week profiles the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB) to learn that the hobby club's silver-coated "pico balloon" was last picked up via radio signal on Feb. 10 at 38,910 ft. off the west coast of Alaska, and that it was projected to float over central Yukon territory the following day. It disappeared around the time and in the general location of the Feb.11 F-22 shootdown of an 'unidentified object' ordered by the White House, which grabbed media headlines.

The report began somewhat hilariously enough: 

A small, globe-trotting balloon declared "missing in action" by an Illinois-based hobbyist club on Feb. 15 has emerged as a candidate to explain one of the three mystery objects shot down by four heat-seeking missiles launched by U.S. Air Force fighters since Feb. 10. 

The Pentagon's own briefings had described a "small, metallic balloon with a tethered payload below it" - and yet still, as the search for debris continues in inclement arctic weather, there's been no confirmation of exactly what it was shot out of the sky.

Projected path of the hobby club's balloon at around the time of the Feb.11 object shootdown, via the Intelligencer.

According to a further description of the team of hobbyists' balloon that went missing

The descriptions of all three unidentified objects shot down Feb. 10-12 match the shapes, altitudes and payloads of the small pico balloons, which can usually be purchased for $12-180 each, depending on the type.

“I’m guessing probably they were pico balloons,” said Tom Medlin, a retired FedEx engineer and co-host of the Amateur Radio Roundtable show. Medlin has three pico balloons in flight in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

What's more is that the enthusiasts are so convinced that the Pentagon has been taking pot-shots at mere pico balloons (very expensive pot-shots at that), that some have contacted multiple federal agencies to inform authorities, but apparently to no avail. 

Below is an example of the type of transmitter, which is the "payload" dangling under the balloon, which accompanies the high-altitude flights:

Source: qrp-labs

"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 (SBS), told Aviation Week.

Behold the potential major "threat" which "required" advanced F-22 jets armed with Sidewinder missiles to be deployed last week...

The publication itself, based on what it learned about the pico balloons flying high over North American skies, attempted to alert the FBI, NORAD, the National Security Council (NSC) and the Office of the Secretary of Defense while seeking comment. However, they too were given the runaround.

"The FBI and OSD did not acknowledge that harmless pico balloons are being considered as possible identities for the mystery objects shot down by the Air Force," wrote Aviation Week.