FAA orders ground stop at 3 U.S. airports to support “national security effort” where suspected spy balloon was last seen
Update: U.S. fighter jets shot down the balloon off the South Carolina coast Saturday afternoon and the FAA ended the ground stop. Read the latest here.
Arrivals to and departures from three U.S. airports were paused for over an hour Saturday afternoon when the Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop to “support the Department of Defense in a national security effort.”
The FAA confirmed to CBS News that flights to and from Wilmington International Airport, Myrtle Beach International Airport and Charleston International Airport were paused until at least 2:45 p.m. on Saturday. The agency also “closed additional airspace.”
Two U.S. officials told the Associated Press that the Biden administration is moving forward with a plan to bring down the balloon once it is above the Atlantic Ocean, where remnants could be recovered.
President Joe Biden said earlier Saturday that the United States was “gonna take care of” the balloon, but did not elaborate on what that might mean. The two U.S. officials told the Associated Press that Biden had given the operation the go-ahead.
Reports and verified photos on social media show the suspected Chinese spy balloon, which is carrying surveillance equipment and was first spotted over Montana on Thursday, was recently in the skies in the South Carolina area.
China has acknowledged that the high-altitude balloon belongs to Beijing, but has referred to it as a civilian device “used for scientific research such as meteorology” that blew off-course.
A second balloon has reportedly been sighted over Latin America.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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