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    Hobby Group Wonders If F-22 Shot Down its Missing Balloon

    Hobby Group Wonders If F-22 Shot Down its Missing Balloon

    An Illinois hobby group is wondering if one of the unidentified flying objects shot out of the sky by a jet fighter's sidewinder missile might have been their humble radio-equipped balloon.

    The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade declared one of its exploratory “pico balloons” missing Wednesday, according to Aviation Week.

    The balloon's last transmission reportedly came from 38,910 feet above the Alaskan coast on Feb. 10, headed toward the Yukon Territory. The next day, U.S. officials said an F-22 downed an object floating over that area at 40,000 feet.

    Pico balloons seemingly bear a resemblance to the objects shot down over Alaska, and the South Carolina coast in recent days. They can be as cheap as $12, Aviation Week said.

    The AIM-9x missiles being used to shoot down unmanned balloons in recent days are 10-feet long and cost upward of $450,000.

    Pico balloons are reportedly exempt from most Federal Aviation Administration airspace restrictions because they weigh fewer than six pounds.

    “I'm guessing probably they were pico balloons,” hobbyist and Amateur Radio Roundtable host Tom Medlin told Aviation Week when discussing the fighter jets' targets.

    He claims to have three balloons currently floating over two hemispheres.

    Aviation Week unsuccessfully reached out to government agencies including North American Aerospace Defense Command to see if the objects shot down over the…

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