High above Charlotte, a suspected Chinese spy balloon drifts past
Saturday dawned piercingly cold and clear in Charlotte, with only a few wisps of cloud, contrails from high-flying jets and a suspected Chinese spy balloon marring the bright blue sky.
The balloon drifted east across the North Carolina mountains early Saturday. It was spotted sailing over Charlotte by mid-morning, igniting a social media frenzy as residents uploaded pictures of the pale, white orb and local police urged them not to call 911 or shoot at it.
The Chinese foreign ministry says it’s a weather balloon blown off course, but Pentagon officials say they’re confident the balloon — initially spotted over Montana — can gather intelligence. Two military bases appeared to be the balloon’s path, Tillis said, Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg.
But before reaching those installations, the balloon slowly floated over south Charlotte and possibly Matthews, wafting past the Arboretum shopping center before drifting off to the south and east.
A few hours later, off the coast of South Carolina, the balloon was no more. U.S. fighter planes downed it at around 2:40 p.m., according to media reports.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has canceled his weekend trip to China, calling the balloon a “violation of U.S. sovereignty."
“That’s no moon.” Yes, there are reports that the Chinese balloon is flying over our area at the moment. It’s flying at 60,000+ feet. Don’t try to shoot it!! Your rifle rounds WILL NOT reach it. Be responsible. What goes up will come down, including your bullets #YCSONews pic.twitter.com/SeT0ZTUTvy— York County Sheriff (@YCSO_SC) February 4, 2023
Spotted the Chinese spy balloon from my Ballantyne home looking south. Saturday, 2/4/23, 11:06 am. @wcnc @wsoctv pic.twitter.com/Nj1KHiq8oe— Kevin Stewart (@_Kevin_Stewart) February 4, 2023
This is so wild:— Jared Kay (@Jared_Kay_) February 4, 2023
Never did I imagine waking up to a giant spy balloon flying directly over our house.
It’s kinda creepy!
Captured 02/04/23, Mills River NC
800mm lens, Canon R5 #wnc #asheville #millsriver #balloon #theyrewatchingus #spyballoon #chinesespyballoon #northcarolina pic.twitter.com/MAIO4nDj2y
My best shot where you can see the payload better. #ChineseSpyBalloon pic.twitter.com/MjbAjsNxKs— Brad Panovich (@wxbrad) February 4, 2023
@wxbrad just south of Olde Providence pic.twitter.com/minrG2l6di— BadGenius (@BadGenius) February 4, 2023
@wxbrad hard to see, just from my iPhone. Slightly below the airplane, to the right. Robinson Church, Charlotte. pic.twitter.com/HVzyBNvnGO— Cam (@cam_g_7) February 4, 2023
I see it now in my backyard in south Charlotte #ChinaSpyBalloon pic.twitter.com/DrhXZtIvEY— Brad Panovich (@wxbrad) February 4, 2023
The trajectory of the Chinese spy balloon includes flyovers near Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune. President Biden’s decision not to destroy it even as it passed through sparsely populated areas is puzzling, and we deserve answers. https://t.co/TLXBwFeO4Y— Senator Thom Tillis (@SenThomTillis) February 3, 2023
Stepped outside, just in case. And sure enough - there’s the balloon.— Meg Kinnard (@MegKinnardAP) February 4, 2023
View from my back deck, near Columbia, South Carolina.🎈 pic.twitter.com/7SKSf4XFhy
SUPPORT LOCAL NEWS
From local government and regional climate change to student progress and racial equity, WFAE’s newsroom covers the stories that matter to you. Our nonprofit, independent journalism is essential to improving our communities. Your support today will ensure this journalism endures tomorrow. Thank you for making a contribution of any amount.