UFO? The F-22 shot down a $13 balloon put up by Bottlecap Balloon Brigade, an Illinois hobby group

UFO? The F-22 shot down a $13 balloon put up by Bottlecap Balloon Brigade, an Illinois hobby group. By Lewis Pennock.

A mystery object shot down by U.S. fighter jets amid ongoing hysteria sparked by a Chinese spy balloon may have been a $12 inflatable launched by a hobby group in Illinois.

The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB) reported one of its balloons ‘missing in action’ around the same location – and at the time time – a U.S. Air Force jet downed an unidentified object near Alaska using a $400,000 Sidewinder missile.

NIBBB said its ‘K9YO’ balloon last reported its location shortly before 1am GMT on Saturday, February 11 (8pm EST on February 10), near the coast of southwest Alaska.

Modeling shared by NIBBB shows its balloon was headed in the direction of Yukon before it vanished …

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.

Far from posing a military or surveillance threat, the ‘pico balloons’ launched by hobby groups like NIBBB often do little more than relay location data – or, in some cases, information about the weather.

They float around until they’re damaged or brought down by bad weather. K9YO was airborne for 123 days and 18 hours before it stopped reporting its location.

In that time, it circumnavigated the globe six times.

More photos, and maps, here


The United States Air Force wasted nearly $1,000,000 in AIM-9X missiles to down what looks to be a trash bag with a radio attached to it. Never mind the cost to scramble the jets themselves. And they did that because the Biden administration was desperate to save face after looking pathetically weak in dealing with the original Chinese spy balloon? …

Truly, this country is run by the most unimpressive people imaginable.

Rich Lowry:

This is typical Washington — the under-reaction is always followed by the over-reaction.