An Illinois-based hobbyist balloon club called the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade reported their balloon missing in action above Alaska on the day the U.S. Air Force spent $400,000 to shoot down an unidentified flying object.
Their hypothesis is that the last thing their foil balloon saw was a heat-seeking missile trail heading its way.
President Biden's latest address seems to confirm that this might be the case, though he was as cagey as ever:
The foil balloon used by the hobbyists runs about $12. There are several such balloon clubs that attach geo-transmitters to balloons and use them to circumnavigate the world. Meanwhile, the typical Sidewinder missile used for air-to-air combat on a fighter jet runs about $400,000.
The Bottlecap Balloon Brigrade's balloon had just flown over China and was entering U.S. airspace at about 40,000 feet when it went dark in approximately the same region that the Air Force reported downing a silver high-altitude object.
Other balloon hobbyists are now worried about the fate of their balloons as well.
Tom Medlin, a retired FedEx engineer and co-host of the Amateur Radio Roundtable show, has a balloon that is set to enter U.S. airspace as early as today.
"I hope," Medlin said, "that in the next few days when that happens we're not real trigger-happy and start shooting down everything."
I guess Medlin should have added Chinese spy equipment to his balloon.