“If an object threatens the safety of the American people, I will shoot it down,” he proclaimed with determination. Joe Biden this Thursday. It was the first time that the US president spoke publicly about the issue that has captivated the country’s attention in recent weeks: the shooting down of three flying objects in US and Canadian airspace.
Biden had acknowledged shortly before that US intelligence had not yet determined the nature of these devices, but that ruled out that they were linked to Chinaafter a week earlier his army had shot down a spy balloon from the Asian giant that had entered American skies.
“The analysis at this time of our intelligence is that these three objects are probably balloons related to private businessesrecreational entities or scientific bodies to study meteorology or conduct other scientific research,” he added.
For days, Americans have discussed various theories about what those unidentified flying objects could be, which had forced Biden to send in fighter jets and shoot them down with missiles.
Were they other spy balloons, linked to China or other countries? Will they be evidence of the presence of alien activityAs much as, of course, the White House denies it?
The explanation could be much more prosaic. The object that threatened the security of Americans and that required a forceful response from Biden could belong to a fan group to the illinois balloons.
The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB, in its acronym in English, and a nod in its name to the cartoon film ‘Up’) has assured the medium ‘Aviation Week’ that one of its balloons could have been one of the objects shot down by the fearsome American fighter jets.
The group -a harmless-looking mix of children, adults and retirees– explained that one of his balloons was located for the last time on Friday at 12,000 meters above the west coast of Canada. Due to its trajectory, on Saturday it should be over the Yukon Territory, also in Canada, where that same day, at a similar height and in that area, an F-22 shot down one of the objects with a missile. It is common for these balloons to give intermittent communication signals, since they depend on solar energy for their communication.
123 days in the air and six orbits around the Earth
The NIBBB are a group of balloon flying and tracking enthusiasts. This device in question had been in the air for 123 days and had circled the Earth six times. Until, perhaps, he became a danger to the US government.
The NIBBB globe is cylindrical and metallic in color. According to the RTL-SDR radio amateur blog, it would probably be a ‘pico’ type balloon, with a diameter of just under one meter and a small load with a radio transmitter. The description would fit that of the Pentagonwhich brought down a “small, metallic balloon with a payload attached to it underneath,” according to an internal report revealed by CNN.
That balloon can be purchased on the Internet starting at $12. If it is confirmed that the NIBBB balloon was the one that brought down the army, the episode would become a historical grotesque: in addition to putting an entire country on edge, the US missile that brought it down costs the public coffers 400,000 dollars.
Discomfort in the White House
To the White House security spokesperson, John Kirby, he was uncomfortable when he had to refer to the possibility that the artifact that threatened the world’s leading power was a diversion for retired engineers and curious teenagers. “I’m not aware of any formal process to claim ownership of the balloon by that group or other groups,” he said of the Illinois fans. “It will be very difficult to make an identification until the remains are recovered,” he added, although it will be very difficult for this to be achieved, given the size of the balloon and the remote location of its explosion.
Kirby in any case defended the shootdown, which from the beginning was justified because the balloons floated at a height that made them a risk to air traffic. “The best possible decisions are made with the information available at that time and under the recommendations of the military authorities,” he said.
There are two other balloons that nobody has come out to claim. One was shot down in Alaska. The other, on Lake Huron, between the US and Canada. The latter required two missiles, as the former missed its target.