A balloon declared “missing in action” by a hobbyist club has emerged as a candidate to explain one of the three UFOs shot down a week ago by Sidewinder missiles launched from U.S. fighter jets.
That’s according to an Aviation Week report, which identified the club as the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade, or NIBBB.
The report also quoted the founder of a Silicon Valley company that makes what are called “pico balloons” for hobbyists and other customers.
“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,” said Ron Meadows, the founder of the company, Scientific Balloon Solutions.
Small pico balloons can typically be purchased for $12 to $180 each, according to Aviation Week.
Meanwhile, the estimated cost of one Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile is about $400,000. U.S. Air Force F-16s and F-22s used such missiles — made by Raytheon
— during the past weekend to down the objects that were spotted over Canada’s Yukon, Alaska and Lake Huron.
The Illinois club’s pico balloon was projected to have been floating high over the Yukon territory on Feb. 11, which is the same day a Lockheed Martin
F-22 shot down an unidentified object in that area, the Aviation Week report said.
North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said the Federal Bureau of Investigation has spoken with the club, and it expects the White House’s National Security Council will have more on potentially identifying the objects, according to a Fox News Digital report.
The National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby, is slated to join White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at a briefing for reporters at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Friday.
On Tuesday, Kirby and Jean-Pierre said there could be a benign explanation for the three high-altitude objects downed by the U.S. military over the past weekend, saying they could have come from commercial or research entities.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden said the three UFOs were “most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions,” with his use of the term “recreation” suggesting that a hobby club could be involved.
Biden repeated his administration’s point that nothing for now suggests the three recent objects are related to China’s spy balloon program or another country’s surveillance efforts.
See: Biden promises ‘sharper rules’ for UFOs, as one downed object may have come from hobby club
Also read: Spy balloon drama will impact U.S.-China relations. So what comes next?
Plus: Spy balloon incident was a ‘coordinated effort to gather intelligence,’ former NORAD operations director says