Over the last few days, several accounts across social media shared a very peculiar selfie. An Airforce pilot took a selfie as they flew past the now notorious "Chinese Spy Balloon" that was downed on February 3. The Pentagon confirmed that indeed the photo existed and released it into the public domain.
The day before the balloon was shot down, the selfie was taken by a member of the 94th Airlift Wing, a reserve unit of the United States Air Force. The pilot was on board a Lockheed U-2 plane, a single-engine high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft.
Balloons have been all the rage this month for the US airforce. Apart from the February 3, the three other balloons downed don’t seem to have any connection to China at all. One was likely to be a small weather balloon from a group of ham radio enthusiasts. Such a weather balloon, known as a picoballoon, costs about $30, and a state-of-the-art GPS messaging system to get weather data is around $300. The US Airforce used an AIM-9X Sidewinder missile costing around $400,000.