One of the UFOs shot down last weekend by the US Air Force with a $400,000 missile may have been just a $12 balloon belonging to an Illinois hobby group. The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB) said on Thursday that one of its balloons flying in the same location has been "missing in action."
The hobby group told Aviation Week that it fears that its balloon which has gone missing may have been mistaken as the mystery object taken out by the military over Canada on Saturday. This came as Biden on Thursday said that there is no evidence that the three UFOs shot down were spy balloons.
A Simple Research Balloon?
The hobby group now worries that the research balloon was mistakenly shot down by US fighter jets using Sidewinder missiles in US and Canadian airspace. It also claimed that the balloon costs just $12. However, it was shot down by a missile costing $400,000.
The silver-coated, cylinder-shaped Pico Balloon recorded its last location on Friday at 38,910 feet off the coast of Alaska.
According to the estimated trajectory of the balloon, by Saturday it would have been above the middle Yukon Territory at about the same time that a military Lockheed Martin F-22 shot down an unexplained object of a similar description and height in the same Canadian region, according to the outlet.
The NIBBB, a group of hobbyists focused on making, launching, and tracking handmade balloons, stated on Saturday that its K9YO device was "lost in action."
The K9YO balloon had been around the world six times over a period of 123 days before its tracking gadget went dead on Friday. The group was able to track the balloon using a ham radio thanks to the balloon's modest GPS transmitter and antenna.
After the unidentified ariel object was shot down, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said an "unidentified object" had been shot down over Canada's Yukon area, several hundred miles beyond K9YO's last known location.
The probability that the balloon was one of the suspicious objects shot down by the US military is raised by modeling data supplied by NIBBB, which suggests the balloon was traveling in the direction of Yukon before it disappeared.
Officials in Canada and the United States have variously described the object that a U.S. Air Force F-22 fighter plane shot down over Mayo, Yukon, as a "cylindrical" metallic balloon containing a payload.
A review of the circumstantial evidence by Aviation Week keeps the possibility open despite NIBBB's not saying definitely that the downed balloon belonged to them.
According to Fortune, the Air Force specifically targeted suspected Chinese spy balloons and unidentified flying objects with Sidewinder missiles. A price tag of about $400,000 is attached to each missile.
The US also brought down flying objects over Alaska and on Sunday over Lake Huron. Yet, according to an article in Aviation Week, the cost of a pico balloon varies from $12 to $180 per unit.
Authorities have been working to recover the debris from the three objects recently downed over North America.
But on Thursday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police gave up looking for the item that was shot down over Lake Huron on Sunday.
Ron Meadows, the founder of Scientific Balloon Solutions, a company that manufactures pico balloons in Silicon Valley, California, told the outlet that he "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".
Meadows in an interview with The Independent said that he couldn't say for sure but claimed it was "probable" that the objects fired down were balloons produced by Scientific Balloon Solutions in a phone interview with The Independent.
He continued by saying that the gadgets don't have any cameras and merely transmit their location. He said, "Our company is primarily for STEM education," he said, noting that the intention is for students to learn about aviation and weather. "They pose no threat to any country ... I can't stress that enough."
"Our products are designed to fly at 43,000 feet, which is above the ... commercial air traffic," he said, adding that "it's hard to understand the thought process of shooting them down".
Meadows asserted that he "completely" understands the justification behind shooting down the Chinese spy balloon. According to him, his company's balloons have been in use since about 2015 and have a 15-gram payload that includes a GPS tracker that is powered by solar panels and transmits the balloon's location, course, and speed.