KANSAS CITY, Mo. — National headlines speculating about a spy balloon from China floating over the U.S. has everyone looking skyward.
On Friday, people in the Kansas City area believe they saw the same balloon. FOX4 took multiple reports of a balloon flying in the sky.
FOX4 contacted the FAA about the balloon. The agency referred questions to the Department of Defense.
Where is the balloon flying over the U.S.?
The National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill said employees could see the large balloon on the horizon from the Pleasant Hill office. The weather service also confirmed it is not one of its weather balloons.
FOX4 meteorologist Jacob Lanier noted the balloon was still visible from FOX4’s tower camera in Overland Park, Kansas, at the same time St. Louis cameras captured it.
With the balloon 60,000 feet up, it would “theoretically be visible on the horizon from up to 200 miles away,” Lanier said.
Lanier said a forecast model predicts the balloon will travel toward Evansville, Indiana, then into Kentucky/Tennessee.
The latest #ChinaSpyBalloon forecast assumes it will stay at around 60,000 ft (~75 mb), where winds are generally WNW. After the balloon exists Missouri, will track toward Evansville, IN and then into Kentucky/Tennesse. @fox4kc @fox4wx #MOwx pic.twitter.com/hdbUsZjEIM— Jacob Lanier (@JacobLanierWx) February 3, 2023
Pilots spot balloon
Air traffic control operators in Kansas City communicated with commercial pilots regarding the balloon on Friday.
“Is this the one that’s been on the news?” one Alaska Airlines pilot can be heard asking.
“It is,” the controller responded.
Hear their air traffic radio conversations in the video player above.
“Are we going to get in sight of the unmanned balloon?” the pilot asked.
Pilots who spotted it were able to stay beneath it.
“Yep we can verify that it’s well above us. I would guess 50 (thousand feet) would be about accurate and about 2 o’clock right now,” a Delta pilot radioed back.
U.S. lawmakers comment on balloon’s flight
While federal agencies have not confirmed what the object is, Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said what everyone is seeing is, in fact, the suspected spy balloon.
Meanwhile, both Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Mo., and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., are calling for the U.S. to shoot down the balloon.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., also believes the US needs to take action.
U.S. Rep. Mark Alford, R-Raymore, expressed concerns about the balloon flying so close to Whiteman Air Force Base, home of the B-2 Stealth Bomber.
“When you have a Communist spy balloon flying over an important military installation like that, that can not happen,” Alford, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told FOX4.
Pentagon’s balloon response
Nexstar’s The Hill reported Thursday that the Pentagon identified the aircraft as a “high altitude surveillance balloon” and said it would not shoot it down because falling debris would pose a risk to people on the ground.
China urged calm on Friday morning before denying those claims. In a statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it was a civilian research ship studying weather that blew off course.
Beijing expressed regret that the aircraft had entered U.S. airspace, saying the government “has no intention of violating the territory and airspace of any sovereign country.”