USAF Might Be Shooting Down Hobbyist Balloons 2023-02-17 10:00:00

New submitter kalieaire writes: Steve Trimble of Aviation week reports that a Hobby Club’s missing ballon might have been inadvertently targeted as a malicious UFO and subsequently shot down. When Scientific Balloon Solutions (SBS) company founder, Ron Meadows, reached out to Gov’t resources at the FBI and DoD, they were brushed off. “I’m guessing probably they were pico balloons,” said Tom Medlin, a retired FedEx engineer and co-host of the Amateur Radio Roundtable show. Merlin has three pico balloons in flight in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. According to Trimble, the description of all three UFOs shot down during 2/10-12 match the description of pico balloon models which can be purchased for $12-180 each, depending on the type. “Launching high-altitude, circumnavigational pico balloons has emerged only within the past decade,” writes Trimble. He continues: Meadows and his son Lee discovered it was possible to calculate the amount of helium gas necessary to make a common latex balloon neutrally buoyant at altitudes above 43,000 ft. The balloons carry an 11-gram tracker on a tether, along with HF and VHF/UHF antennas to update their positions to ham radio receivers around the world. At any given moment, several dozen such balloons are aloft, with some circling the globe several times before they malfunction or fail for other reasons. The launch teams seldom recover their balloons.

The balloons can come in several forms. Some enthusiasts still use common, Mylar party balloons, with a set of published calculations to determine the amount of gas to inject. But the round-shaped Mylar balloons often are unable to ascend higher than 20,000-30,000 ft., so some pico balloonists have upgraded to different materials. […] In fact, the pico balloons weigh less than 6 lb. and therefore are exempt from most FAA airspace restrictions, Meadows and Medlin said. Three countries — North Korea, Yemen and the UK — restrict transmissions from balloons in their airspace, so the community has integrated geofencing software into the tracking devices. The balloons still overfly the countries, but do not transmit their positions over their airspace.

On Feb. 15, NSC spokesman John Kirby told reporters all three objects “could just be balloons tied to some commercial or benign purpose,” but he did not mention the possibility of pico balloons.

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