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Yukon UFO could have cost unfortunate balloon fan $12

How much are sidewinder missiles going for these days?

Having spent the first half of the month blasting anything that moved out of the sky following the destruction of a Chinese spy balloon, it has emerged that the US could have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars disintegrating a hobbyist's $12 project.

In its postmortem of Pico Balloon K9YO, the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB) declines to make the association with the F-22 jet scrambled after a UFO violated Canadian airspace, but the circumstantial evidence is compelling.

The club – on a website that has since fallen off the internet – reports that K9YO last phoned home in the early hours of February 11 near Hagemeister Island off the coast of Alaska.

Later that day, an object was detected on radar as it crossed the state into Canada's Yukon territory, where it was unceremoniously deleted by a US sidewinder air-to-air missile, which The Guardian suggests could have cost as much as $439,000.

K9YO was a "pico balloon" popular with a small hobbyist community that carried lightweight trackers, solar panels and antennas. According to Aviation Week, they can cost from $12 to $180 depending on the type.

NIBBB appears to enjoy tracking its balloons as they circumnavigate the globe. Pour one out for K9YO, which was on its seventh such journey after 123 days and 18 hours of flight, and has now been declared "missing in action."

Speaking to Aviation Week, Ron Meadows of Scientific Balloon Solutions, which manufactures pico balloons for science and hobby purposes, said: "I tried contacting our military and the FBI – and just got the runaround – to try to enlighten them on what a lot of these things probably are. And they're going to look not too intelligent to be shooting them down."

Since the Chinese spy balloon was downed over the Atlantic on February 4, there have been three other "UFOs" apparently necessitating a lethal response, the last above Lake Huron in Michigan on February 12.

China claims unauthorized balloons from the US have crossed its airspace more than 10 times since the start of 2022.

The US conceded on February 14 that the latter three objects "could just be balloons tied to some commercial or benign purpose." Whoopsie. ®

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