Unidentified Objects/Balloons Intercepted by US aircraft

Greene

Member
Yet another object was shot down over Lake Huron yesterday.

This one was at 20,000 feet and described as 'octagonal'.

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UPDATE: 5:22 P.M. EST—
Representative Bergman tells Fox News that the object was 'octagonal' and was shot down by F-16s using an AIM-9 missile at around 20,000 feet.
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UPDATE: 5:53 P.M. EST—
More info coming out now that the octagonal object had strings hanging from it but no payload on them as reported by CNN
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The full statement from the DoD, this seems to have been the same object picked up on radar over Montana but that F-15s couldn't find on arrival:
"Today at 2:42 p.m., at the direction of President Biden, and based on the recommendations of Secretary Austin and military leadership, an F-16 fired an AIM9x to successfully shoot down an airborne object flying at approximately 20,000 feet altitude in U.S. airspace over Lake Huron in the State of Michigan. Its path and altitude raised concerns, including that it could be a hazard to civil aviation. The location chosen for this shoot down afforded us the opportunity to avoid impact to people on the ground while improving chances for debris recovery. There are no indications of any civilians hurt or otherwise affected. North American Aerospace Defense Command detected the object Sunday morning and has maintained visual and radar tracking of it. Based on its flight path and data we can reasonably connect this object to the radar signal picked up over Montana, which flew in proximity to sensitive DOD sites. We did not assess it to be a kinetic military threat to anything on the ground, but assess it was a safety flight hazard and a threat due to its potential surveillance capabilities. Our team will now work to recover the object in an effort to learn more."
Source: F-16 Shoots Down “Octagonal Object” Over Lake Huron (Updated)

The Drive (linked above) has been a good source aggregator for the various reports & statements being released so far (Tyler Rogoway has long has an interest in the UAP phenomenom with his standpoint being they're mostly drones).

Given that these objects all seem to be of different sizes/shape, I'm wondering if they are all completely unrelated to one another other than being unknown lighter than air vehicles that are near or in US/Canadian air space.

It has a bit of the same feel as mass hysteria UFO events in the past where suddenly more and more people are actually looking up at the sky and seeing things they don't recognize...which later turn out to be aircraft, celestial objects, lights from far off buildings etc.
 
More info coming out now that the octagonal object had strings hanging from it but no payload on them as reported by CNN
sounds like the payload was already released. or it might be a tethered balloon that broke loose.

I don't think these small light-weight balloons are as much of a hazard to navigation as is being suggested.

Specifically, 20,000 ft is above the altitude of most small aircraft (because the air is too thin to breathe) and below the altitude of most jets (because the air is too thick to fly through economically).
 
Just a quick point, U.S. Air Force General Glen VanHerck, head of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Northern Command, has specifically said that the objects shot down are not balloons, see story from Reuters:

https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us...aska-canada-were-balloons-schumer-2023-02-12/

U.S. Air Force General Glen VanHerck, who is tasked with safeguarding U.S. airspace, told reporters that the military has not been able to identify what the three most recent objects are, how they stay aloft, or where they are coming from.

"We're calling them objects, not balloons, for a reason," VanHerck, head of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Northern Command, said.

Also quoted by NBC News

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/na...shot-unidentified-object-lake-huron-rcna70289

Unlike a balloon shot down off the coast of South Carolina Feb. 4, described by officials as spy aircraft, it's unclear how the most recent objects stay aloft and move along, Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), said at a media briefing Sunday.

"I’m not going to categorize them as balloons," he said. "We’re calling them objects for a reason. I'm not able to categorize how they stay aloft."

Obviously, there's no suggestion that the objects are extraterrestrial, but they are being described as not being "balloons".
 
That statement is fairly odd. It invites many more questions than it answers. I mean it's either aerodynamic, buoyant or ballistic are they saying they cannot tell which at this stage?

To shoot down an object which you cannot characterise to the point of not even being able to tell what form of lift it employs, outwardly seems reckless.
 
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Press briefing excerpts

These are very, very slow object in the space, if you will, going at the speed of the wind essentially.

[...]

So as Assistant Secretary Dalton talked about, radars essentially filter out information based on speed. So you can set various gates. We call them velocity gates that allow us to filter out low-speed clutter. So if you have radars on all the time that we're looking at anything from zero speed up to, say, 100, you would see a lot more information.

We have adjusted some of those gates to give us better fidelity on seeing smaller objects. You can also filter out by altitude. And so, with some adjustments, we've been able to get a better a categorization of radar tracks now. And that's why I think you're seeing these overall. Plus, there's a heightened alert to look for this information. I hope that adds additional clarification.

[...]

GEN. VANHERCK: Yeah. So I'm not going to categorize these balloons. We call them objects for a reason. Certainly, the event of South Carolina coast for the Chinese spy balloon, that was clearly a balloon.

These are objects. I am not able to categorize how they stay aloft. It could be a gaseous type of balloon inside a structure or it could be some type of a propulsion system. But clearly, they're — they're able to stay aloft.

[...]

Q: Hi, thanks. A missile seems like a particularly destructive weapon to be using if there is a desire to investigate and figure out what these are afterwards. Can you explain why — explain the weapon's choice.

GEN. VANHERCK: Absolutely. Melissa, if you don't mind, I'll take this one. So, first of all, maintaining a radar track on an object this small is very hard. So taking a radar shot such as AIM-120 would be a lower probability of success. We assessed taking a gunshot yesterday in that event, as well as today. And the pilots in each situation felt that that was really unachievable because of the size, especially yesterday in the altitude, and also because of a — the challenge to acquire it visually because it's so small.

It's also potentially a safety of flight issue because you have to get so close to the object before you see it that you potentially could fly into the debris or the actual object. Therefore, in each situation, the AIM-9X, a heat seeking missile or infrared missile that sees contrast, has been the — the weapons of choice against the — the objects was — we've been seeing.

Q: Back to the discussion on the AIM-9X, can you talk about what about these objects gave off enough heat signature for the I.R. seeker without any sort of propulsion system? And secondly, the F-16 presumably has a targeting pod. I assume you had eyes off from other aircraft. Will the Pentagon be releasing any of these images?

GEN. VANHERCK: I'll let policy decide on — on the images. That's not mine. But the — the AIM-9X, first, I would make an assumption, there wasn't a propulsion system or there was. What I would say is what you have is a — a contrast between the — the, you know, the — the environment and the objects them self, which gives often I.R. contrast, which allows the missile to track. And that's been very, very effective for the AIM-9X.

Melissa, over to you on the releasing — releasing of photos.

MS. DALTON: Thank you. We — we absolutely want to be transparent about our military operations and what we are learning about these objects and the PRC high-altitude balloon and hope to share more in the coming days.

Q: Thank you. I wanted to see when we talk about investigating or investigating the debris of this, who's taking the lead on that? Is that the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office?

GEN. VANHERCK: Thanks. All right. So as far as the recovering, the — technically the FBI has the lead under counterintelligence authorities. They are embedded with DOD because we have the resources to enable them to conduct the operations.
 
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That statement is fairly odd. It invites many more questions than it answers. I mean it's either aerodynamic, buoyant or ballistic are they saying they cannot tell which at this stage?

To shoot down an object which you cannot characterise to the point of not even being able to tell what form of lift it employs, outwardly seems reckless.
"I'm not going to categorize these balloons" is political for "don't antagonize #ufotwitter". Until the debris has been recovered, it could be a "breakthrough" antigravity device to anyone who uses the word "mainstream" when talking about science. (It's a balloon though).
 
WH briefing today: "No indication of ET" @ 3:13
John Kirby @4:25 differentiates between the 3 recent objects and the "spy balloon" and describes all of them as "high altitude, low speed, craft"
John Kirby @6:10 says the president has ordered a "broad look" at UAPs and then plugs in the newly create UAP office.

https://www.youtube.com/live/bRKmCEcbFsw?feature=share

Sounds like UAPs might be getting a more serious look now that some of them have been liked to foreign adversaries.
 
Remember when the DoD UAP group's (lost track of the organization's title/acronym after multiple changes) report came out last month? They had a category they called "balloons and balloon-like entities." That struck me as odd at the time, but now I wonder if that somehow ties in to the wording used to describe (or not describe) targets of recent shootdowns?

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The bulk of those reports — 163 — were attributed to balloons "or balloon-like entities," the government said.
https://www.npr.org/2023/01/13/1149019140/ufo-report
 
I don't think these small light-weight balloons are as much of a hazard to navigation as is being suggested.
I've found two accidents involving unmanned floating balloons (manned balloons have accidents rather more frequently).

On September 16th, 1970, a MiG-19PM hit a hydrogen-filled weather balloon over Hungary at ~15,000 ft; the balloon exploded and damaged the aircraft, which crashed.


NTSB AVIATION ACCIDENT/INCIDENT DATABASE

NTSB Report Nbr LAX94FA047
Event Id 20001211X13742
Local Date11/15/1993

THE AIRPLANE WAS OBSERVED FLYING OVER ROLLING HILL TERRAIN AT A LOW ALTITUDE WHEN IT ENCOUNTERED A BUNDLE OF HELIUM BALLOONS. A POPPING NOISE WAS HEARD FOLLOWED BY THE AIRPLANE ENTERING A VERTICAL DIVE WHICH CONTINUED TO GROUND IMPACT.

Accidents involving weather balloons seem to be extremely rare.
 
Accidents involving weather balloons seem to be extremely rare.
The NTSB Aviation Accident and Incident Data System (NTSB) has zero reports involving collisions with a 'weather balloon'.

For comparison, the database returns over 200 results on 'bird strike'.
 
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The latter indicates that they could be balloons or something else.
I agree with that interpretation of the statement.
The 'something else' might be something like a slow-moving drone, but it might also be something (other than a balloon) just drifting turbulently with the wind, like a runaway kite or a sheet of plastic. The UAPTF report used the term 'airborne clutter' for this miscellaneous category, distinguishing it from balloons.
It might seem unlikely that anything of this kind, being heavier than air, would be randomly wafted up to 20k or 40k feet, but there is also the possibility that it started out higher and is gradually drifting downwards, like a falling leaf. For example, over 1000 routine weather balloons are launched each day worldwide, and what goes up must eventually come down. The remains of a burst balloon might take on a variety of odd shapes, and be difficult to identify.
 
So with that level of uncertainty they shot it down?

I think this is basically we know full well what this is but they are essentially saying "we don't have to tell you anything so we are going be as vague as we can get away with" (and in the process leave some holes for the UFO crowd to jump to conclusions through.)
 
So with that level of uncertainty they shot it down?

I think this is basically we know full well what this is but they are essentially saying "we don't have to tell you anything so we are going be as vague as we can get away with" (and in the process leave some holes for the UFO crowd to jump to conclusions through.)

They shot it down because it was unauthorized encroachment of US airspace. It's a message to Russia, China, etc.
It will take some time to recover the debris and analyze them, so they don't want to say anything now. It's the smart thing to do, nobody wants to have to go on national TV to admit they were wrong.

BTW they shut the door down on ET today.
 
Given the increase in tensions with China following shooting down the one balloon that they have, so far, called a balloon, it may be that not using the "B-word" is related to diplomatic concerns. Or it may be that, politically, the administration is not keen on becoming the butt of jokes about popping all the balloons and such. Or...

I don't know what is the reason for the caution about identifying these as balloons is, but the point it there are many possible reasons for not SAYING they are balloons other than not knowing that they are balloons. Assuming that they did not know what they were shooting at may not be the correct assumption.
 
sounds like the payload was already released. or it might be a tethered balloon that broke loose.
Already released, on purpose, sounds reasonable to me. If this was a full-blown program, perhaps a whole fleet, how would one go about aborting, just in case? Can't do much about the balloons easily, but at least let go of those payloads. If besides maybe SIGINT gear they originally also included some simple means of propulsion or steering, as was apparently the case with the first specimen, it might explain why they're suddenly seeming all over the place. Plus why pilots couldn't make much sense of what would basically be remnants, or skeletons. I guess the Chinese aborted, as good as possible, just before or right after the apparently unexpected downing off North Carolina. Now they're trying to distract with wild counter allegations.
 
WH briefing today: "No indication of ET" @ 3:13
John Kirby @4:25 differentiates between the 3 recent objects and the "spy balloon" and describes all of them as "high altitude, low speed, craft"
John Kirby @6:10 says the president has ordered a "broad look" at UAPs and then plugs in the newly create UAP office.

https://www.youtube.com/live/bRKmCEcbFsw?feature=share
The transcript is up at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing...c-communications-john-kirby-february-13-2023/ .
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Aliens
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And one last thing before I turn it over to the Admiral. I just wanted to make sure we address this from the White House. I know there have been questions and concerns about this, but there is no — again, no indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity — (laughter) — with these recent takedowns.

Again, there is no indication of aliens or [extra]terrestrial activity with these recent takedowns. Wanted to make sure that the American people knew that, all of you knew that. And it was important for us to say that from here because we’ve been hearing a lot about it.

Q Are you disappointed by that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I — I’m not — (laughter) —

Q Would you tell us if there were, really?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m just — you know, I loved “E.T.,” the movie. But I’m gon — I’m just going to leave it there. (Laughter.)
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MR. KIRBY: I don’t think the American people need to worry about aliens, with respect to these craft. Period. I don’t think there’s any more that needs to be said there.
Spy balloons
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But we were able to determine that China has a high-altitude balloon program for intelligence collection that’s connected to the People’s Liberation Army.
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We also know that a range of entities — including countries, companies, research and academic organizations — operate objects at these altitudes for purposes that are not nefarious at all, including scientific research.
Object characteristics
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Q And are we still with “object,” or can we call them “balloons”?

MR. KIRBY: Still with “object.”

Q And just to follow-up on Kelly’s question —

MR. KIRBY: And I won’t mess that up today. (Laughter.)
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In each instance, we have followed the same basic course.

We assessed whether they posed any kinetic threat to people on the ground. They did not.

We assessed whether they were sending any communications signals. We detected none.

We looked to see whether they were maneuvering or had any propulsion capabilities. We saw no signs of that.

And we made sure to determine whether or not they were manned. They were not.
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Chinese spy balloon, we knew exactly what that thing was and we knew what it was trying to do. And we saw it, Jacqui, as it slowed down, sped up, maneuvered a little bit, trying to get a look at what we believe to be sensitive military sites.

These other three, they didn’t have propulsion. They weren’t being maneuvered. It was basically — they were been being driven by the wind.
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I think we all need to be humble here in terms of what our ability is to positively identify stuff from fighter aircrafts that are going several hundred miles an hour past, essentially, in terms of relative motion, a stationary object that was not very big.

So we don’t know what this exactly looked like. And again, we’re still not sure exactly what the purpose of it was or who owned it. But we — we hope to be able to find out more once we can recover the debris from that one and from the other two as well.
debris recovery
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Q Has the payload been recovered from South Carolina yet?

MR. KIRBY: The —

Q The large so-called payload that’s (inaudible).

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, as I said, some of the debris — certainly, they were able to take things off the surface, like the next day — actually, that afternoon — some of the balloon fabric. And in the days since, they have been able to recover some, not all, of the payload that sank to the bottom of the Atlantic. It’s in about 45 feet of water.

Weather conditions are pretty tough off the coast right now. Like today, for instance, they have not been able to get into the water and dive on it. But over the course of the weekend, they were able to raise some of the debris, including some of the electronics and some of the structure.
 
If this was a full-blown program, perhaps a whole fleet, how would one go about aborting, just in case? Can't do much about the balloons easily, but at least let go of those payloads. If besides maybe SIGINT gear they originally also included some simple means of propulsion or steering, as was apparently the case with the first specimen, it might explain why they're suddenly seeming all over the place.
The 3 latest balloons are not part of the same Chinese program because they're much smaller and thus can't carry the kind of equipment that the "spy balloon" did. The explanation proferred by the military is that they're now detecting them when they previously didn't, so they're seeing more because they're looking more, not because there are more.

Once they recover the debris, we'll know more. But my money is on them not being foreign surveillance craft.
 
GEN. VANHERCK: Yeah. So I'm not going to categorize these balloons. We call them objects for a reason. Certainly, the event of South Carolina coast for the Chinese spy balloon, that was clearly a balloon.
Does he actually say "categorize these balloons." or does he say "Categorize these AS balloons."
 
I'm posting the following article from the online Independent newspaper as it seems to contain more detailed and explicit information on at least two of the 'objects', quoting a 'memo' reportedly sent from the Pentagon to Congress. This is still second-hand and unverified information, but plausible. The immediate source is cited as CNN. Among other things:

The “object” downed in Canadian airspace on Saturday, however, appeared to be a “small, metallic balloon with a tethered payload below it,” reported CNN, citing the Pentagon memo sent to lawmakers on Monday
It had was [sic] previously described as a “cylindrical object” that crossed near “US sensitive sites” before being downed, reported the news network.

The object shot down over Lake Huron in Michigan on Sunday “subsequently slowly descended” into the water after impact, according to defence officials writing the memo.

A 'metallic' balloon could be Mylar, which isn't actually metallic but looks like it!

The full article is here

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/...alloon-payload-yukon-object-ufo-b2281703.html
 
Mylar is not naturally metallic, but is often metallised with aluminum so generally it is metallic if it looks metallic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BoPET

Biaxially oriented PET film can be metallized by vapor deposition of a thin film of evaporated aluminium, gold, or other metal onto it. The result is much less permeable to gases (important in food packaging) and reflects up to 99% of light[citation needed], including much of the infrared spectrum. For some applications like food packaging, the aluminized boPET film can be laminated with a layer of polyethylene, which provides sealability and improves puncture resistance. The polyethylene side of such a laminate appears dull and the boPET side shiny.
 
Mylar is not naturally metallic, but is often metallised with aluminum so generally it is metallic if it looks metallic
It is also used to "wrap up" satellites and spacecrafts, this time called Multi Layer Insulation. Basically 3-4 layers of aluminised Mylar foil.
 
The immediate source is cited as CNN.
When I read something like that, I look for the immediate source. Excerpts:
A US official told CNN over the weekend there has been caution inside the administration on the pilot descriptions of the unidentified objects due to the circumstances in which the objects were viewed.

"These objects did not closely resemble and were much smaller than the PRC balloon and we will not definitively characterize them until we can recover the debris, which we are working on," a National Security Council spokesperson said.

[...]

"It should not be assumed that the events of the past few days are connected," the Pentagon noted in the memo.

[...]

US Coast Guard ships were deployed to search the site in Lake Huron where the third object was shot down, and the Pentagon memo said no additional information was available about the description of that object.

[...]

The first missile that was launched by an F-16 fighter jet at the object near Lake Huron on Sunday did not hit the target, three people briefed on the matter told CNN. [..] It is not clear what happened to the missile.


"Caution on the pilot descriptions of the unidentified objects" is probably helpful in some of those other UAP events as well.
 
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“I wouldn’t really call it a balloon… I don’t know what… I can see it outside with my eyes,” one of the pilots says. “Looks like something… there’s some kind of object that’s distended… it’s hard to tell, it’s pretty small.”
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zo...-intercept-the-octagon-object-over-lake-huron

Aircrew are aware they are possibly being monitored, so either he was guardedly describing what he was looking at or was genuinely having a tough time seeing/describing it. Or a combination of both.
 
note that a zero pressure balloon "inflates" as it rises and the gas inside expands, and "deflates" as it drops. The (partially) deflated balloon could have all sorts of weird shapes, especially if the payload is no longer attached.
 
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“I wouldn’t really call it a balloon… I don’t know what… I can see it outside with my eyes,” one of the pilots says. “Looks like something… there’s some kind of object that’s distended… it’s hard to tell, it’s pretty small.”
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zo...-intercept-the-octagon-object-over-lake-huron

Aircrew are aware they are possibly being monitored, so either he was guardedly describing what he was looking at or was genuinely having a tough time seeing/describing it. Or a combination of both.
If you listen to the audio the pilot said he was having issues with glare on his windscreen.
 
I've been reading some speculation that the object shot down over Alaska during the recent spy balloon/UFO flap might actually have been a ham radio pico balloon. These consist of very lightweight circuitry and solar panels attached to consumer-grade decorative balloons, and can often make several circumnavigations of the globe.


Source: https://twitter.com/ikluft/status/1625570734633517057



Curious to know what exactly this apparatus might look like, I found a video of a launch on YouTube:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpCJD9q4w_I

According to the description, this example made it from the United States to Poland.

The twin-balloon configuration immediately made me think of the Aquadilla video, although I'm not sure if helium balloons could explain the heat signature?
 
These consist of very lightweight circuitry and solar panels attached to consumer-grade decorative balloons, and can often make several circumnavigations of the globe.

Our current package of tracker, solar panels and dipole antenna weigh 9.2 grams we add about 8 grams of additional gas before sealing the balloon.
img_20220903_085527724.jpg

This is our tracker and 7 solar panel package with Dipole Antenna, secured to a cardboard flap for transport to launch site
low-sun-high-power-overview-v2-1.jpeg.jpg

This is our Low Sun-High Power Solar Panel and Tracker used on for Pico Balloon KD9UQB launched from Neumayer Station III, Antartica, November 24th 2022.

This particular balloon was "lost" before:
Sixth Circumnavigation around the World on January 31st 2023, after 112 days 22 hours.

Shortly after reporting the 5th circumnavigation after almost 77 days days of flight, Pico Balloon K9YO was declared missing in action. On January 26th 2023 after 109 days of flight, K9YO, reported then flew north of the Day/Night Change Line and went missing again. Pico Balloon K9YO started regular reporting on January 30th 2023.
 
So we are now on the 16th of Feb, and STILL no news? Or did I miss it? (non-US guy here)

i'm answering you in this thread since information is spread over too many threads now :)

this link TMZ has an audio of some pilot(s) over Lake Heron describing it.

https://www.tmz.com/2023/02/15/lake-huron-ufo-cockpit-audio-air-force-pilots-balloon/
:18 seconds [can't tell] if it's metallic or what
:28 blackish
:30 can't really tell what the shape is
:38 it's like an octogonish shape. I'm gonna call it a balloon.


i "think" theres only 2 pilots on audio. ?? i "think" the second voice starts at like :36. if it is 2 pilots (vs one) the only thing they kinda agree on is "it's so small" (ie hard to see) and "strings hanging down"
 
FWIW I agree. I originally posted this in the 2nd thread. It wasn't my choice to split it off.
it had to be split really. (i see it as: the CHina Balloon thread is the first thread. THis is the 2nd thread. and the conspiracy theory that we are shooting down our own weather balloons is the 3rd thread. :) )
 
Possible source for the "cylindrical" object.

Hobby Club’s Missing Balloon Feared Shot Down By USAF

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A small, globe-trotting balloon declared “missing in action” by an Illinois-based hobbyist club on Feb. 15 has emerged as a candidate to explain one of the three mystery objects shot down by four heat-seeking missiles launched by U.S. Air Force fighters since Feb. 10.

The club—the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB)—is not pointing fingers yet.

But the circumstantial evidence is at least intriguing. The club’s silver-coated, party-style, “pico balloon” reported its last position on Feb. 10 at 38,910 ft. off the west coast of Alaska, and a popular forecasting tool—the HYSPLIT model provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—projected the cylindrically shaped object would be floating high over the central part of the Yukon Territory on Feb. 11. That is the same day a Lockheed Martin F-22 shot down an unidentified object of a similar description and altitude in the same general area.
 
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Hobby Club’s Missing Balloon Feared Shot Down By USAF

are they trying to prove the earth isn't flat? what is the point of this hobby?

The pico-ballooning community is nervous about the negative attention by some members of Congress and the White House, who have called the objects shot down at altitudes of 20,000-40,000 ft. dangerous to civil aviation.

“We did assess that their altitudes were considerably lower than the Chinese high-altitude balloon and did pose a threat to civilian commercial air traffic,” Kirby says. “And while we have no specific reason to suspect that they were conducting surveillance of any kind, we couldn’t rule that out.”

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.
 
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