Skip to content

US jet shoots down Chinese balloon in sight of the TLC

Something flashes below a reported Chinese spy balloon just after it was struck by a US Air Force missile just off the Grand Strand Coast Saturday in this video shot by Casey Ward.


     International news came home to the Tabor-Loris Community Saturday as US military jets shot down what the government identified as a spy balloon from China.

Seen from Mill Branch northeast of Tabor City, this reported Chinese spy balloon was soon shot down by a US Air Force missile. (Deuce Niven, TLT)

     That balloon had apparently crossed the country, coast to coast, its presence made public earlier in the week as it floated over military installations in Montana, news national news outlets reported.

     With news that the balloon would pass over the Carolinas on Saturday, many eyes were on the skies and reports from news outlets across both states documented its passage until it crossed just off the coast, off of the Grand Strand, before mid-afternoon.

     A single missile fired from a jet based at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia took the balloon down as likely thousands of eyes on the ground watched with cameras, binoculars, and the naked eye.

Circling jets

     Contrails, the white trails of condensation often visible from jets flying overhead, were especially noticeable on the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky Saturday afternoon.

     Casey Ward of Goldfinch Funeral Home was on the way from the chapel in Loris to the main facility in Conway as he noticed unusual patterns.

     “You don’t usually see them circling,” Ward said. “It was two jets. Then I saw people in their yards, on the side of the road, taking pictures.”

     Ward said he soon learned what was happening above.

     “As soon as I got to the funeral home I started watching,” he said.

     A phone call alerted him to the possibility that the balloon would be shot down. Though distant, he captured the moment on video with his phone.

     Just after the balloon clearly deflates, a sparkling can be seen from below the fluttering fabric.

     “Unbelievable,” Ward said.

     Look for more on this story in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.