A Chinese spy balloon suspected of crossing the US last week drifted over the Atlantic, shoot down with a fighter.
In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, crowds lined the beach boardwalk cheered as missiles from F-22 fighter jets hit a balloon. The balloon quickly deflated and fell into the sea.
In a video shot by tourist Angela Mosley, a person yells, “That’s my Air Force, buddy!” just after the missile hits.
“I walked out of the store and looked up and there were fighter planes circling and the balloons were there,” Mosley said. “One of his fighters flew at high speed and approached it. Then I heard a boom and knew it was gone.”
Mosley said there appeared to be no boats in the water below the balloon when the wreckage fell, but several aircraft soon arrived. U.S. officials tried to time the operation. Collect as much wreckage as possible before sinking.
The balloon had become a major flashpoint of tensions between Washington and Beijing. The Biden administration has previously held back from launching balloons, citing the risk to people on the ground from falling debris.
Software engineer and storm chaser Bryan Branch took a photo of the balloon over western North Carolina hours before it took off. He could see the payload hanging from the round white balloon.
“I’m kind of surprised they didn’t shoot it down over Montana,” Branch said.
There were sightings on Saturday in northern South Carolina, including Greenville and Spartanburg, and in the Charlotte suburb of North Carolina.
The steerable balloon entered U.S. air defenses north of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands on Jan. 28, entered Canadian airspace two days later, and returned to the U.S. over northern Idaho on Tuesday, U.S. defense officials said. and military officials said.it wasn’t recognized by the government Until Thursday, the day after commercial flights were temporarily suspended at the airport, officials said billings, montana People on the ground saw a balloon that seemed to hover over the city.
China said the weather vessel was blown off course, a claim U.S. officials denied.
In Congress, Republicans jumped on the initial decision not to shoot it down in rural Montana as a sign of weakness on the part of the Biden administration.
But in York County, South Carolina, not far from the North Carolina border, the county sheriff’s office advised people not to attempt to retrieve balloons that passed over the area Saturday morning on their own. bottom.
“Don’t try to shoot!!” the sheriff’s office tweeted Saturday as the balloon passed over the area at an altitude of about 60,000 feet (18,600 meters). “Your rifle bullets will not reach it. Be responsible. Anything that goes up will go down, including your bullets.”
The balloon interest that has swept the country has also spawned a fake video purporting to show the downing.
Among them was an unverified video of a “massive explosion” from the city of Billings on Friday evening, two days after the balloon passed. This video was picked up and broadcast by Fox News. Montana Gov. Greg Greg Gianforte said in an interview with Tucker his Carlson that he was “monitoring the situation.”
It was watched millions of times before local authorities denied speculation that a Chinese balloon had been shot down. The City of Billings issued a statement, declaring that “no explosions have occurred in, around, or throughout #Montana.”
Another video allegedly showed the balloon being lowered over North Carolina on Friday afternoon — about the same time people reported seeing the balloon over Missouri.
By Saturday morning in Polkville, North Carolina, branch, a storm chaser, said he could see the balloon about an hour and 15 minutes before it drifted into the sun’s path.
“There’s nothing around it. “I let it pass. If it was spinning, if it was a tornado, I would have chased it.”