Close-up photo of Chinese spy balloon in flight released by US military
A close-up photo of the Chinese spy balloon, taken mid-air from a U-2 spy plane, has been released by the U.S. military
The photo was taken on Friday, Feb. 3 as the balloon flew over the American Midwest at an altitude of 60,000 feet -- as the U-2 spy plane trailed it flew across the continental United States.
The image shows the U2 spy plane flying just above the balloon with the pilot’s helmet seen in the foreground.
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U-2 spy planes are usually one-seater aircraft but the U-2 that was flying alongside the balloon was a two-seater trainer.
The photo was taken by the other pilot sitting in the second seat.
Visible in the balloon’s white fabric is a silhouette of the U-2 aircraft and below it is the payload that carried reconnaissance sensors, antennae, and solar power panels.
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That payload was described as being equal in length to three school buses.
The day after the photo was taken the balloon was shot down on Feb. 4 over U.S. territorial waters off of South Carolina.
A two-week recovery operation off the coast of South Carolina recovered most of the balloon and its payload that is now being analyzed by the FBI.
The incident created a domestic and international political firestorm.
Close-up photo of Chinese spy balloon in flight released by US military originally appeared on abcnews.go.com