See The Selfie Taken From The Cockpit Of A Spy Craft

The US Department of Defense released a picture of the Chinese spy balloon taken from inside the cockpit of an Air Force fighter plane.

By Ryan Clancy | Published


There has been plenty of news coverage about the surveillance balloon that was taken down by the US government a few weeks ago but was anyone expecting that a selfie from the sky would be released, taken on the inside of a spy plane? Taken by the plane’s operator, the selfie shows that the aircraft was over the balloon. The balloon’s payload was also in the background.

spy balloon
Photo from inside a fighter plane cockpit depicted the Chinese spy balloon
Credit: US Department of Defense

The surveillance balloon was found at the end of January and was taken down by the fighter jets once it was over water. It came down off the east coast of America after spending weeks crossing the country. The balloon was over sixty meters in height and weighed a few thousand kilograms. It was understood that the balloon was undergoing an intelligence collection operation for the Chinese government as there were several signals radiating from it.

After various plans of action, the American government decided that it was best to shoot the balloon down over water as shooting it down over land could cause any number of injuries to people and property from falling debris.

Government officials also stated that once it was spotted, America took steps to protect itself from releasing unwanted information to the Chinese, thus scuppering any chance of the spies receiving any other information.

The plane in which the iconic selfie was taken was a U-2 spy plane. It has a singular seat and specializes in high-altitude information-gathering and surveillance airplanes. As the aircraft is at extremely high altitudes, the pilots must wear special suits similar to astronauts to fly the planes in such extreme conditions.

The iconic selfie was probably taken at over 60,000 feet in the air, as that is where the balloon was positioned at that altitude when it was spotted over Montana. The photograph was taken after the balloon entered over American soil and was first identified by fighter jets. It entered the US via Alaska, and jets were the first aircraft to make a positive identification.

At the time, the government was not alarmed as the balloon was set to take a Northern path which the intelligence officials would then track and study, but once the balloon hit land, it changed its patch and started to move south. This sudden change in flight path alarmed government officials, and various meetings took place to decide if the risk of shooting it down was more significant than letting the Chinese collect more information.

Over the course of the last month, several government planes were sent to track and monitor its ever-changing path. Once the balloon was eventually shot down, a recovery operation began immediately to see what information the Chinese had recovered and what they were looking for initially. In the recovery operation, the ever-important payload of the balloon was recovered from the sea and sent to be examined.

Even though this is an incredibly serious event, the pilot probably experienced a once-in-a-lifetime situation, being 70,000 feet in the air over a Chinese surveillance balloon; why not capture the moment?