When the balloon began crossing the water, Mark Doss, 54, drove a golf cart three blocks down from his home to Garden City Beach. There, Doss said he and his two teenage children spent 90 minutes watching the balloon strike and waiting in vain for debris to wash ashore.

The sheer size of the white orb awed Doss, who said the approaching fighter jet looked like a little model airplane. Doss recalled a “white puff of smoke” after the missile struck the balloon.

“That one jet made a beeline straight to it – wham!” Doss said.

Ashlyn Preaux, 33, went out to get her mail in Forestbrook, South Carolina, just inland of Myrtle Beach when she saw her neighbours gathered outside. Curious, she went to see what they were looking at.

It was easy to spot the balloon in the cloudless blue sky and then what appeared to be fighter jets circling overhead as well. After the strike, she could see the balloon start to fall apart and fall from the sky.

“I did not anticipate waking up to be in a Top Gun movie today,” she said.

*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.