Timeline: Where the Chinese surveillance balloon was spotted before being shot down

Timeline: Where the Chinese surveillance balloon was spotted before being shot down
ABC News Illustration/Google Earth
February 5th, 2023 | ABC News Radio

(NEW YORK) —¬†Government officials closely tracked a massive surveillance balloon believed to be from China as it traveled across the U.S. for several days.

The white balloon, which China’s foreign ministry has claimed to be used for meteorological purposes, traveled at an altitude of around 60,000 feet with a vessel described as the size of three buses, officials said. It was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean Saturday afternoon.

Here is a timeline of where the balloon was spotted in the U.S.:

Jan. 28
The balloon entered U.S. airspace on Jan. 28 north of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, according to a senior military official.

Jan. 30
It then entered Canadian airspace over the Northwest Territories on Jan. 30, the senior military official said.

Jan. 31
The balloon then traveled south and reentered U.S. airspace over northern Idaho on Jan. 31, according to a senior military official.

Feb. 1
4:21 p.m. ET:
One of the earliest sightings confirmed by ABC News was Wednesday in Reed Point, Montana.

6:46 p.m. ET: More than two hours later, it was filmed east of Reed Point, in Billings, Montana. Other footage captured it over Billings over the next hour, as civilians wondered what the object was.

From Montana, the balloon traveled southeast through South Dakota and Nebraska, according to U.S. officials.

Feb. 3
9:41 a.m. ET:
Social media sightings popped up as the balloon moved southeastwardly across the continental U.S. ABC News confirmed another sighting of the balloon around 9:41 a.m. ET on Friday, when it was filmed over Sabetha, Kansas.

11 a.m. ET: Over an hour later, it appeared farther east over Saint Joseph, Missouri, where it was filmed.

Between 11:56 a.m. and 12:28 p.m. ET: Video footage captured the balloon farther east, over Cameron, Missouri.

About 30 minutes later: It was seen farther south within the Kansas City metro area, in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

The balloon appeared to be heading toward North Carolina, according to a senior U.S. official familiar with the situation.

Feb. 4
ABC News confirmed several sightings of the balloon in North Carolina by Saturday morning.

8:40 a.m. ET: The balloon was filmed over Biltmore Park in Asheville, North Carolina.

10:22 a.m. ET: The balloon continued to move southeastwardly, with sightings over the Hendersonville and Saluda areas, before being captured over the Eagle Lake neighborhood in Charlotte.

11:15 a.m. ET: The balloon was captured over South Carolina, in Lancaster, as it continued moving southeastward toward the coast.

1:30 p.m. ET: The balloon was seen over the coastal city of Myrtle, along with U.S. fighter aircraft close by.

2:39 p.m. ET: Its voyage came to an end. Footage captured the balloon being shot down over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina.

The balloon was ultimately downed in U.S. airspace over U.S. territorial waters by fighter aircraft assigned to U.S. Northern Command, according to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

The balloon was struck by an F-22 firing a missile roughly six nautical miles off the South Carolina coast, according to a senior U.S. defense official.

ABC News’ Victoria Beaule, Layla Ferris, Cheryl Gendron, Julia Jacobo, Kerem Inal, Chris Looft, Josh Margolin and Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

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