While the media and the government have been pushing hard on the UFO/UAP story, with claims of everything from Chinese spy balloons to aliens from another planet, it seems they may soon have to admit they made a fool of themselves and maybe shooting down amateur radio hobbyist balloons.
Today, an amateur radio club in Illinois is claiming U.S. Air Force fighters may have shot down their balloon and believe that the so-called UFOs being shot down over U.S. Soil are nothing more than schools and amateur radio club “pico balloons.”
The club—the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB), says their balloon went missing around the same area where the U.S. Airforce shot down a so-called object near the Yukon Territory on Feb. 11.
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.
There are suspicions among other prominent members of the pico-ballooning enthusiasts’ community, which combines ham radio and high-altitude ballooning into a single, relatively affordable hobby.
The launch blog post indicates that the K9YO-15 balloon was flying a silver mylar 32″ sphere SAG balloon which appears to be this one from balloons.online. Unlike latex or rubber weather balloons which inflate and stretch as they rise into lower atmospheric pressures, these mylar balloons can’t stretch, so their fully inflated ground size will be the same as their size at high altitudes, meaning the pico balloon won’t get much bigger than 32″. The payload was a GPS module, Arduino, SI5351 used as a WSPR and APRS transmitter and a solar panel, all together weighing 16.4 grams. A pentagon memo notes that the object shot down over Canada was a “small metallic balloon with a tethered payload” which fits the description of the pico balloon exactly.
“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,” says Ron Meadows, the founder of Scientific Balloon Solutions (SBS), a Silicon Valley company that makes purpose-built pico balloons for hobbyists, educators and scientists.
The Pico Balloons transmit low power WSPR at HF frequencies and can only transmit when sufficient solar power is available. Amateur radio or SDR hobbyist stations around the world can pick up these transmissions, and report them on amateur.sondehub.org and/or wsprnet.org. Well built balloons can totally circumnavigate the globe several times over several months before degrading.
Ham Radio Pico Balloons – Constructing, Launching and Tracking
Here is video of what the balloon launches look like.