On February 11th, NORAD commanded an F-22 to shoot down a mysterious object that was floating over Canada's Yukon, and that object was most likely a balloon belonging to a Northern Illinois hobby club, Forbes reports.

The US and NORAD were on high alert after a Chinese spy balloon crossed the entirety of the continental United States before it was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast on February 4th.

Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade says the last reported location of their now missing balloon leads them to believe that it was the one shot down Saturday.

NIBB's Pico Balloon K9YO could've been easily mistaken for a party balloon, but its job was to measure things like humidity, pressure and temperature. The measurements are reported back to hobbyists daily through a global network.

For tracking, the balloons are fitted with VHF/UHF antennas that can give out information and coordinates to ham radio operators. Aviation Week says the balloons are capable of circling the globe several times before they finally fail.

Here's an example of a Pico Balloon launch:

The aircraft-based outlet says the balloons cost between $12-$180 dependent on the type, and all three UFOs shot down between February 10-12 match the shape, altitude and payload of small pico balloons.

As far as the missiles used to shoot down what may have been a hobby balloon, the F-22s used sidewinder missiles, which cost nearly $400,000 a piece.

Forbes says because of the weight of the balloons being so light, they're often exempt from FAA Regulations, which explains why they've been more difficult to identify.

“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,” National Safety Council spokesman John 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.”

If you check the website for Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade, you'll see they have a map showing the most recent reporting of their balloons, showing multiple balloons in US airspace with more expected to enter within the next few days.

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“I hope that in the next few days when that happens we’re not real trigger-happy and start shooting down everything,” Tom Medlin, a hobbyist with three balloons in the air told Aviation Week.

While the three objects since the Chinese balloon that originally floated across the nation seem to not have been direct threats, President Biden said Thursday that he's not going to mess around with these objects.

“If any object presents a threat to the safety and security of the American people, I will take it down," he said in a press conference.

Read more at Forbes

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