Balloon shot down by U.S. jet could belong to amateur hobbyist
AFP/File / Martin BERNETTI

An object shot down by the U.S. Military over the Yukon last weekend may have belonged to an Illinois hobbyist group, Politico reports.

Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade said Thursday that one of its balloons had gone missing near Alaska on Saturday, the same day an F-22 shot down an object over the Yukon in Canada.

“When I heard that [it was a] silver object with a payload attached to it, that could be one of our balloons,” a member of the group told Politico.

From Politico: "Government officials have reached out to some of the hobby group’s members, the person said. On Thursday, a spokesperson for the North American Aerospace Defense Command said the FBI had contacted the club but did not provide more details. The FBI did not return a request to comment. For months, the hobby group tracked its balloon using an antenna attached to the craft, using GPS to estimate where it was. Based on their data, the balloon should have been over Alaska when it went offline."

Balloons flown by the hobbyist group are no different from the $10 to $15 balloons children buy for parties, according to the member speaking to Politico, and are not used for scientific purposes. “Unless it has Mickey Mouse ears and F-22 pilots got sharp eyes and can discern that, it’s not clear exactly what you’re looking at. But the point is that it is not at all a huge reach,” to assume it’s the group’s balloon, the member said.

“I’m an American and I don’t want anything bad to happen to our country. If they don’t know, I’d rather that they err in shooting down $100 worth of balloon stuff than have something bad go over Canada or the United States,” the member said, adding that they're not angry over the incident.