Timeline of The Chinese Spy Balloon


     On Jan. 28, a mysterious 200-ft tall balloon was detected north of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. The military’s North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) began tracking the balloon and determined that it did not pose any   immediate danger or harm. 

     Two days later on Jan. 30, the balloon entered Canadian airspace. While over Canada, officials decided that the balloon was being used for spying. The balloon contained surveillance cameras and equipment, as well as having solar panels attached. This same balloon had been spotted over countries across 5 different continents. 

Various balloons were spotted over the country during Trump’s administration and once at the start of Biden’s administration. But this spotting of the balloon was different from the rest, due to its time spent over North America. 

     On Jan. 31, the balloon reentered U.S airspace over northern Idaho, and this spotting was made known to President Biden, who asked for it to be shot down. The Pentagon continued making efforts to keep the balloon from collecting sensitive information. The most alarming location of the balloon was over Montana. This sparked some concern because Montana is home to Malmstrom Air Force-Base that contains ballistic missiles. According to CNN, people living in Billings thought it was a star or a planet, and once they realized what it was, were concerned at how far into the country it was. After being spotted over Billings, all flights out of Billings Logan International Airport were grounded for around 2 hours, and F-22 fighter jets were arranged in case the decision was made to shoot it down. 

     On Feb. 2, a second balloon was spotted over South and Central America. Then on Feb. 4, during a stop in New York City, President Biden announced that he would “Take care of it,” speaking in regards to the balloon. At 2:39 pm, a F-22 flying at 58,000 feet shot down the balloon which was at a height of 60,000 feet. Beijing announced that shooting down the balloon was an overreaction, and that the balloon was being used for meteorology purposes. The US Senior Defence official said in response to this that the balloon was a violation of our sovereignty and an intrusion of our airspace. 

     When asked what her feelings were after hearing about the balloon, Junior Chloe Larsen said “I’m not too concerned about it.” She follows this by explaining “I see how it could be an issue but it doesn’t seem like a huge threat right now.”  

     This occurrence, although concerning, is not unusual. These surveillance balloons have flown over more than 40 countries and 5 continents. Officials are trying to understand why these balloons are being spotted so frequently, and why this one balloon was over North America for such a long period of time.