Illinois hobbyist group says its balloon went missing the same day U.S. military shot down unknown object over Alaska

The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade has not confirmed that its balloon was the object taken down by a fighter jet.

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A pico balloon floats in the air over Tennessee last year. An Illinois hobbyist group says it pico balloon stopped sendings transmissions the same day the U.S. shot down an unidentified object near Alaska last Saturday. Tom Medlin via AP

A pico balloon floats in the air over Tennessee last year. An Illinois hobbyist group says its pico balloon stopped sending transmissions last Saturday, the same day the U.S. shot down an unidentified object over Alaska. / Tom Medlin via AP

An Illinois hobbyist group declared one of its pico balloons as “Missing in Action” last Saturday — around the same time a U.S. military fighter jet shot down an unknown object in the same region where the small balloon was last heard from.

The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB) said it received the last transmission from the pico balloon K9YO when it was near Hagemeister Island, off the southwest coast of Alaska.

The pico balloon was used for “Amateur Radio,” also known as “ham radio,” the group said. Since the balloon launched on Oct. 10, 2022, it had traveled around the world seven times before it was last heard from.

However, the group said in a statement it is not unusual for significant periods of time to elapse between received transmissions.

“There have been several periods, one as long as 30 days, in which we did not receive a transmission from pico balloon K9YO,” the group wrote.

Additionally, the group said there is no evidence to suggest the balloon had been the object shot down by the government.

U.S. officials have not yet recovered the unidentified object, according to the group.

“Until that happens and that object is confirmed to be an identifiable pico balloon, any assertions or claims that our balloon was involved in that incident are not supported by facts,” the group said.

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