Overly inflated…

I’m not going to get into the arguments that have erupted about the Chinese “spy balloon” in recent days. I will say it has created a treasure trove of comedic responses on both sides of the issue.

I’ll say that the one below made me laugh out loud the most.

F22 Raptor marking its first balloon kill. And yes, it was Phtoshopped.

So here’s what I know about balloons, having flown them for almost 35 years. If you are flying one in the sky, it will be noticed. They move very slowly, they are unique from other aircraft and other items in the sky, they are spectacularly colorful (not the spy balloon) and they always attract attention. If you screw up and you crash a balloon, hit a neighbor’s fence with one land somewhere you shouldn’t, it will be noticed.

When I was considering purchasing the first hot air balloon promoting a bank in the United States, the vendor told us a story about how a balloon they manufactured flew over a major highway in an urban area with nothing more than a large telephone number displayed on the envelope of the aircraft. Within hours, hundreds of calls came into that number inquiring what the promotion was about. Balloons get noticed.

It’s no surprise that people in Montana and other states noticed the Chinese balloon, even though it was flying at an altitude far above where hot air balloons normally fly.

In the past, I’ve seen high altitude weather balloons where I live and largely dismissed them, thinking I knew what they were. In retrospect, maybe some were spy balloons.

Here’s another thing that occurred to me. In 1947, the U.S. Air Force reported the crash of an alien spacecraft near Roswell. Within a couple of days, the Air Force retracted the report and said what crashed was a weather balloon.

So now that we’re recovering debris from the “spy balloon” which China says was a “weather balloon,” is the U. S. military now recovering alien bodies from the debris field? I’m proud to stay I may have started this rumor, and hope others will pile on with equally silly suggestions.

And on a final note, when I asked my very good friend Don in Billings, MT, about whether he had spotted the spy balloon over his state, he said he had not. However, my other very good friend, Victor, suggested that it might have been me flying over Montana in my own balloon trying to get current (according to FAA regulations) and trying to spot a perfect fly fishing stream down below.

I have to confess, it was me.

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