A small balloon belonging to the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade disappeared a couple weeks ago over Alaska.
The hobby club is not pointing fingers, but they believe their $29 balloon may have been shot down by the US air force, using a $400 thousand dollar missile.
The club’s silver-coated, party style “Pico balloon” reported its last position on February tenth. It was at 39,000 feet elevation off the west coast of Alaska. That’s the same day a Lockheed Martin F-22 shot down an unidentified object of a similar description and altitude in the same general area. The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade has not received a signal from their balloon since then.
The small Pico balloons are about three feet in diameter when they’re on the ground. They expand 2-3 times that size at elevation. They transmit their position and weather data.
It’s an affordable hobby for weather and scientific minded people like the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade.