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‘Disconcerting:’ Montana locals react to Chinese balloon

(NewsNation) — Chase Doak had to make sure his eyes weren’t deceiving him. The photos and videos he took proved they weren’t — a white balloon from China was flying over Billings, Montana, and it has become a big deal.

“I never would have expected it to be something of such importance to national security,” Doak said.

From land, the balloon appears to be a small white dot in the sky, but it’s been top-of-mind for many.

“We have intercontinental ballistic missiles here,” said Dexter Roberts, a fellow at the Mansfield Center at the University of Montana. “It would be quite a natural place for a spy balloon to come and take a closer look.”

Not far from Billings is Malmstrom Air Force Base, which houses a total of 150 intercontinental ballistic missiles, Roberts said.

I am demanding answers from the Biden administration about the spy balloon that flew over our airspace.

The administration failed to protect our border and now has failed to protect our skies.

— Steve Daines (@SteveDaines) February 3, 2023

It’s not just Malmstrom. Several key military installations are scattered throughout the country’s heartland.

Chinese officials have said the balloon is a civilian airship studying weather, but Roberts is skeptical.

“The coincidence is too good,” he said.

Flying along an uncertain path, the balloon remains on the move, leaving concerned bystanders in its wake.

“It’s definitely disconcerting to know that something like that could travel so far into our country,” Doak said.