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‘Large White Balloon’ Reported East of Hawaii


Hawaii Balloon
File photo of one of the Chinese balloons spotted over Japan in the past years (Japan MOD) with the ACARS message dated Feb. 19, 2023.

Another white balloon allegedly flying in an area between Hawaii and California.

The “balloon” saga continues: on Feb. 19, 2023, a large white balloon was reported over the Pacific ocean, roughly 600 miles to the northeast of Honolulu. The white balloon was reported to be at an altitude between FL400 and 500 (50,000 feet), in international airspace between Hawaii and California.

The presence of the object was announced by Oakland Oceanic ATC in an ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) message that asked all flights to report to the Air Traffic Control Center if the balloon was seen. The ACARS is an automated VHF communication system used by commercial planes to transmit and receive messages from ground facilities (airline, maintenance department, aircraft or system manufacturer, ATC etc).

No additional detail is known at the time of writing but the U.S. Indo Pacific Command said they are investigating the reports.

The latest reported sighting of a balloon comes as sightings of balloon-shaped objects have multiplied across the world.

The first one was the famous Chinese high altitude balloon, suspected to carry SIGINT equipment, that flew over central U.S. before being shot down off South Carolina on February 4, 2023, by an F-22 Raptor. While the incident is still being investigated, it’s worth of note that the U.S. military has recently said that before being blown off course by prevailing winds, the Chinese balloon had a trajectory that would have taken it over Guam and Hawaii, more or less where the one on Feb. 19 was allegedly spotted.

Three additional unidentified objects, later confirmed to have been much smaller commercial or research balloons, were also spotted and shot down over Alaska, Canada e Lake Huron last week. Other balloons were also reported over Romania and shot down over Ukraine.

On  Feb. 14, the Japanese MOD said that based on further analysis, it strongly presumed balloon-shaped flying objects spotted over Japan in November 2019, June 2020 and September 2021, were unmanned reconnaissance balloons flown by China.

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

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