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UFOs Have A Flare About Them

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2005 13:44:48 -0400
Fwd Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2005 13:44:48 -0400
Subject: UFOs Have A Flare About Them

Source: The Daily Southtown - Tinley Park, Ilinois - USA


Sunday, October 9, 2005

UFOs Have A Flare About Them

Witnesses postulate a new theory about those mysterious red

Sunday, October 9, 2005

By Lauren FitzPatrick Staff writer

Unidentified flying red objects spotted recently over Tinley
Park and Orland Park have stirred up UFO investigating
communities everywhere.

National UFO Web sites are all over the red beauties. The latest
news cited on the home page of the Seattle-based National UFO
Reporting Center reads, "Late Friday night, Sept. 30, 2005, our
offices began receiving reports of several peculiar red lights,
seen in the night sky above Tinley Park and Orland, Ill."

Those peculiar pulses of red light floated over Southland skies
last weekend, around 11:15 Friday night and again at 1 a.m.
Saturday, eerily similar to ones that showed up last year on
mild weekend nights in August and October. Hundreds of
Southlanders saw the lights last weekend, too =97 and found them
just as puzzling as their predecessors.

But a small circle of friends in Tinley Park believe they've
debunked the mystery of the glowing red floaters.

Dave Palagi was sitting with his wife around a fire in their
friends' back yard Sept. 30, enjoying a lovely, clear night when
they all saw the oddity explained.

"We could clearly see the red lights themselves were flares, and
each was suspended by two balloons," he said.

"An occasional ash could be seen dropping. Another member of the
party then saw a third balloon, farther to the north and much
higher. We were watching them actually rising =97 lazily drifting
along and going up."

Palagi figured the balloons were launched around 175th Street
and 84th Avenue, not far from Wally and Maureen Bekta's home in
the 8200 block of Queen Victoria Lane where the group sat.

Maureen Bekta also saw lights and the "balloon-type thing on top
of the two that were lower and closer.

"It was low enough that we felt like it was a prank," she said.
The balloons themselves were dark-colored =97 "you could just see
the outline."

"Aha!" Palagi said, "This is how they did it. It was just such a
revelation after seeing these things last year."

The naysayers

It's been anyone's guess what the lights are, since everyone
seems to know what they're not.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said she checked
into the lights last year, too. If they weren't planes or
helicopters, the FAA wouldn't track them.

"We don't track lights," Elizabeth Isham Cory said.

Tinley Park police, who received some calls last weekend, denied
reports of flares.

"From all the reports we've ever received, they're not flares
with some helium balloons or anything like this," Tinley Park
police Cmdr. Tom Boling said.

Boling said his department would not investigate the lights
unless "there's some reckless conduct that would endanger

"We just don't know what's causing these red lights to appear in
the sky," he said.

The National Weather Service also was stumped.

But an astronomer at Chicago's Adler Planetarium, who concluded
the lights weren't meteors or comets or satellites, said they
did appear to be man-made.

Dr. Mark Hammergren watched several tapes of last year's lights
at the request of a local Mutual UFO Network chapter.

"One thing that makes me very suspicious is that these sightings
all have occurred on weekends =97 (that) suggests that there's
some human activity connected with it," he said. "I would love
to believe this, but I'm not going to base my career and spend
my time on something that's cooked up by some hoaxers."

There exists a "standard" UFO hoax that uses a candle and a
plastic dry cleaning bag to fashion a sort of glowing hot air
balloon, but these lights are too brilliantly red to be ordinary
flames, Hammergren said.

He likes the road flare theory.

Flying flares

Automotive flares typically are red, and burn brightly enough to
be clearly visible from great distances, easily a quarter of a
mile and up, said Bob Defonte of Orion Safety products, the
largest of a handful of domestic flare manufacturing companies.

And they can burn 15, 20 =97 even up to 30 minutes, he said.
They're inexpensive and readily available, too. Wal-Mart sells a
pack of three 15-minute flares for less than $5, Defonte said.
While half-hour burners are slightly harder for the civilian
customer to find =97 they're commonly used by state troopers and
railroad workers, he said.

Getting ahold of flares is the easy part, Defonte said.
Launching them into the sky would be harder, considering a 30-
minute flare measures 16 inches in length and weighs just under
a pound.

It would take two helium balloons about 2 or 3 feet in diameter
to lift that kind of weight, said Marshall Brain, a man of
science and the founder of HowStuffWorks.com.

"It strikes me as possible, but profoundly dangerous," Brain
said. The thing is, he said, flares are really hot and don't
stop until they burn out on their own.

Someone connecting burning flares to a balloon-type propeller
would have to consider heat, and neither Palagi nor Bekta could
tell what linked the light to its source.

UFO fans hang on

UFO investigators said they're not ready to call these sightings
a hoax =97 not yet, anyway.

Peter B. Davenport, the National UFO Reporting Center's founder,
said balloons couldn't account for the complex paths the lights
followed across the sky.

"(They) were actually maneuvering in a seemingly complex
fashion," Davenport said. "How would a person arrange to have
that happen, I wonder."

And what about the danger?

"How many people do you know who would be willing to launch
high-temperature flares over a populated area?" Davenport
wondered. "What happens if a flare cuts its tether and falls
onto the local petroleum refinery, chemical plant, filling
station, paint warehouse, school auditorium roof, etc.?"

And Chicago-based UFO investigator Dr. Mark Rodeghier said he
needs more information to make any kind of judgment.

"I'm certainly open to the idea that the cause of these
sightings is man made, not alien, but I'm not convinced I've
heard any theory that makes any sense," he said. "Something has
to be flying or holding the lights in a huge formation well over
1,000 feet across."

Proper investigations would require going up in a helicopter the
next time the lights appear, shining a powerful spotlight onto
them from the ground or viewing them with a powerful telescope
that also would record what it took in, he said.

But his Center for UFO Studies lacks those kinds of resources
and must rely on eyewitness videotapes and interviews.

So he will join others like Hammergren who continue to watch the
skies and analyze what they see, hoping for the best.

After all, said Hammergren, who believed in UFOs as a child:
"You never know when something might come out of it.

"I'm an astronomer; I'd like nothing more than to see an alien

Lauren FitzPatrick may be reached at
lfitzpatrick.nul or (708) 633-5964.

[Thanks to Stuart Miller of http://www.uforeview.net for the lead]