Balloon Images Released, Another One Spotted Near Hawaii


Airline crews flying near Hawaii have been warned to watch for a “large white balloon” last spotted about 500 miles east of the Islands on Monday. The balloon has apparently been seen by several airline crews. “Report of large white balloon in the vicinity of 2639N15021W,” an ACARS issued Monday says. “Estimated to be between FL400 and FL500. Precise altitude unknown. Advise ATC if object is seen.” There’s been no word from the U.S. government about the sighting. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has released a selfie taken by a U-2 pilot monitoring the balloon that crossed North America two weeks ago.

The photo shows the shadow of the spy plane flying above the balloon, which was shot down off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4. It’s one of three photos released by the military and show just how good a look they had before taking it out with a Sidewinder missile fired from an F-22. The selfie was leaked on Tuesday by a U-2 community blog called Dragon Lady Today and the Pentagon said it was real on Wednesday and added a couple more snaps.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. It turns out punching 20 mm holes into a low pressure balloon the size of an apartment building isn’t very effective. It just slowly deflates and descends over days. Almost like the USAF thought this through before choosing their weapon.

  2. They flew a U-2 over this thing? Can the USAF hang a really, really long bungee cord from it and use a C-130 to tow it to Edwards?

    • The U-2 can slow down to around 120 at lower altitudes, like 3000ft. But at altitude it is moving at a pretty good clip.
      C130 would never make it up to 60,000 ft. That is the normal cruise altitude of the U-2. NASA802 has been training out of Dobins AFB, located just north of Atlanta. It can fly a great distance without refueling and hang out for a while. You can follow its ‘training’ tracks on FlightAware.

  3. Every other article has been about ‘DRONES’ and how great they are. Why don’t they create a high altitude Drone that captures and retrieves balloons in working order ❓

    I’ll bet one of those Pico Balloon clubs can do for less then $400,000.00 😁

  4. Seems to me could have “buzzed” any of the balloons and let wake turbulence do its thing. A 777, even clean, should still do the job, paint the balloon on it’s door. Over land, give the civil air patrol something to search for.

    If wake turbulence doesn’t work, clip the envelope with a wingtip. It’s just thin fabric…