Pentagon Says High-Altitude Balloon Spotted Over Western U.S. Is ‘Hobbyist’ Balloon
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The Pentagon said on Saturday that a high altitude balloon being monitored by the military as it floats across the United States is a hobby balloon and not another Chinese spy balloon. 

The Department of Defense told CBS News that a balloon flying across the Western United States at altitudes of between 43,000 to 45,000 feet was just a “hobbyist” balloon. Previously the Department said that the balloon was not believed to be a threat but that it would continue tracking the craft after the balloon’s presence was reported on Friday. 

North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) fighter jets flew out to the craft and found it “not maneuverable,” saying that it was not a “threat to national security.” The balloon was reportedly made of Mylar and is carrying a small box. 

“NORAD will continue to track and monitor the balloon,” a defense official said on Friday, “The FAA also determined the balloon posed no hazard to flight safety. NORAD remains in close coordination with the FAA to ensure flight safety.”

The emergence of this balloon comes just over a year after the Air Force shot down a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina after it crossed the continental United States. The spy balloon was shot down at an altitude of approximately 58,000 feet after it was allowed to float over the United States for days.


The Biden administration reportedly planned on not telling the public or Congress that the balloon had crossed into U.S. airspace. Days before the presence of the spy balloon had been reported, Gen. Glen VanHerck, the head of NORAD, alerted Gen. Mark Milley, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about the existence of the balloon and the U.S.’ efforts to track it.

The news set off panic in the Biden administration, which scrambled for more than a week to figure out what they were going to do in response.

A report from NBC News that Biden officials were privately “complain[ing]” about “the political outcry over the balloon” because they did not view a balloon that was designed to collect intelligence on sensitive U.S. military sites as being a serious “threat” to U.S. national security.

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