WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military on Saturday shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast after it traversed sensitive military sites across North America.
President Joe Biden issued the order but had wanted the balloon downed even earlier, on Wednesday.
He was advised that the best time for the operation would be when it was over water, U.S. officials said.
The spectacle had Americans looking to the skies all week, wondering whether the mysterious balloon had floated over them.
The balloon was spotted Wednesday over Montana , home to Malmstrom Air Force Base, which has fields of nuclear missile silos.
Bill Swanson said he watched the balloon deflate instantly from his house in Myrtle Beach as fighter jets circled around.
An earlier version of this report incorrectly said the balloon was spotted over Montana on Thursday, instead of Wednesday. »