Experimental Aircraft Association Mystified by Craft

OSHKOSH — When the nation's eyes first caught sight of the balloon sweeping high above Colorado, Dick Knapinski's phone started ringing and never stopped.

"The first reports came out that it was an experimental aircraft, so media around the world looking for some kind of source, some kind of explanation looked for experimental aircraft and suddenly they see the Experimental Aircraft Association in Oshkosh," he said.

As EAA's Communications Director, Knapinski fielded calls from every major network, the Washington Post, CNN's Situation Room and many more.

"I've got six new messages since I started talking to you guys," he with phone in hand.

The association is considered an expert source on homebuilt aircraft, but even there staffers were baffled by what they saw.

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"It didn't seem to be within the normal envelop even for people who build their own aircraft and try different things of their own design," Knapinski said of the strange silver craft.

He says it was an odd shape and lacked the registration numbers homebuilt balloons display to show FAA approval. Knapinski says it was a strange turn of events when authorities discovered there was never a child in the balloon, but at that altitude there are many concerns.

"The temperature drops, it's probably well below zero at that point," he said.

There's also little oxygen. So, while the balloon turned his day upside down, Knapinski was glad to see an outcome like this.

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