Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 16, 2023

It's not a UFO: Tucson tourism/spy balloon company plans Navajo Hopi tourism and views from stratosphere

Arizona-based company World View Enterprises aims to start lofting paying customers on stratospheric balloon rides in 2024, as depicted in this artist's illustration. (Image credit: World View Enterprises)

Photo courtesy World View

Tucson company plans $50,000 rides into stratosphere below elite hot air balloon, including tourism packages on Navajo Hopi lands. In partnership with an international defense contractor, it has already launched intelligence flights over Grand Canyon.

By Brenda Norrell, Censored News, August 16, 2023

The hot air balloon over the Grand Canyon today belongs to World View in Tucson, which plans to sell $50,000 rides into the stratosphere next year. The elite tourism packages include trips to Navajo and Hopi lands, World View said.

It's a mix of tourism rides over the Grand Canyon and other top tourist spots in the world, offered by the company, World View, which has partnered with an international defense contractor, Sierra Nevada Corp.

Sierra Nevada said it is already using the balloons for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. It has launched balloons out of Page fulfilling a contract for the U.K. Defense Ministry, the company said.

Censored News spotted one of the balloons on Flight Radar24 today, departing from Page, Arizona, floating across the Grand Canyon, to Kanab, Arizona.

 (Above)August 16, 2023, Wednesday, 5:30 pm local time. Today's Flight Radar24 shows the balloon passed over Grand Canyon after departing from Page, Arizona. Its registration number is N137WV.

The tourism packages to the stratosphere, and Navajo and Hopi lands, are planned to begin next year, with a price tag of $50,000.

World View said in Tucson in October, "The first operational Explorer flights are scheduled to lift off from Page, Arizona, close to the Grand Canyon. Customers will have the chance to explore the nearby Navajo and Hopi reservations, among other excursions, before settling in to soar high above Earth's most famous canyon system."

World View plans to lift off from six other sites around the world as well: Queensland, Australia, near the Great Barrier Reef; Kenya; Norway; Amazonian Brazil; Mongolia, near the Great Wall of China; and Egypt, near the Giza Pyramid Complex.

The typical ride will last six to eight hours and take passengers to an altitude of at least 100,000 feet (30,000 meters), where they'll be able to see the curvature of Earth against the blackness of space. The overall experience will last five days, World View said.

World View's Explorer capsule will reach altitudes greater than 100,000 feet (30,000 meters) on each operational flight. (Image credit: World View Enterprises)

The Explorer flight is planned to have luxury seats, internet access, and food and drinks served.

When fully inflated, that balloon holds 17 million cubic feet (481,400 cubic meters) of gas.

In 2019, the Pentagon conducted surveillance tests using high-altitude balloons made by SNC across midwestern states, according to documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission.

Those were launched in South Dakota and floated over Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri before finishing up in Illinois, the Guardian reported.

Balloon over Ox Sam Camp and Duck Valley Shoshone-Paiute

Censored News began tracking the hot air balloons on the radar when a balloon was spotted over the Ox Sam Camp after police raided the camp in northern Nevada. Paiute and Shoshone elders and mothers were there protecting the unmarked burial places of Paiutes massacred at Thacker Pass.

Currently, Lithium of Americas is digging into the graves and has filed a lawsuit against Paiute and Shoshone in Nevada district court, and supporters, who were at Ox Sam Camp. Ox Sam was one of the only survivors of the massacre by U.S. soldiers.

The balloon over the area belonged to Aerostar based near Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After floating above Ox Sam Camp, the balloon was above Duck Valley Shoshone-Paiute Nation, which is also voicing resistance to widespread new lithium mining in Nevada. The council's testimony was heard at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples in April of this year.

(Above) Censored News tracked the mysterious object in the sky over Ox Sam Camp. In the skies over Ox Sam Camp, was Project Loon helium balloon. It was spotted by the protectors of the Paiute Massacre Site on Wednesday night. It was shown on radar beginning this flight north of Mount Shasta in California. It then flew over the massacre site and then went directly over Duck Valley Paiute Shoshone Nation and finally concluded the flight in southern Idaho. The massacre site is north of Winnemucca and south of Fort McDermitt, Nevada.

Project Loon was initially supposed to be an internet provider associated with Google but was canceled a couple years ago. The only clue as to why it was above the Ox Sam Camp site, and Duck Valley, is this: The Department of Defense is using the technology for new deep surveillance as revealed in this article, "Google spinoff Aalyria salvages Project Loon for US military."

Project Aether: Sierra Nevada and UK intelligence balloon mission

SPARKS, Nev., October 26, 2022 – "Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) successfully demonstrated performance of its rapidly deployable High-Altitude Balloon (HAB), completing launch, mission performance and recovery of the uncrewed platform for stratospheric communications and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). The flight was a critical part of the company’s U.K. Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Project Aether Flight 1 Assessment Phase contract. SNC’s rapidly HAB provides global, persistent and uninterrupted ISR with communication capabilities at higher altitudes in near real-time." Read more:

World View announced a partnership with Sierra Nevada, US defense contractor in November

SNC’s multi-domain, modular open systems architecture and integration capabilities allow World "View platforms to carry advanced defense and aerospace payloads, while adding capabilities like ISR and electronic warfare sensors, communication networks, cyber intelligence, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data transport. The rapid deployment capability also ensures high-altitude balloon (HAB) platforms are reliably positioned and responsive within hours or days versus weeks for round-the-clock operations."

"The two companies recently demonstrated the rapidly maneuverable, ultra-persistent wide area communications and ISR platform as part of the U.K. Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Project Aether Programme. SNC’s Flight 1 demonstration launched from Page, Ariz., performing key station-keeping missions before transitioning northeast across several states to more urban environments. SNC successfully performed all stratospheric beyond-line-of-sight operations and recovered the payload, maintaining the altitudes for the duration set by the Aether programme office." 
Read more:

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