Balloons of all kinds can cause reports of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP.) Long term readers of this blog may recall that I wrote a series of posts about the stratospheric balloon program known as HIBAL. In Australia, HIBAL was a joint program between the US Atomic Energy Commission and the Australian Department of Supply, launching large balloons from Mildura, Victoria. For newer blog readers, you might wish to take a look at these posts, click here; here ; here ; here and here
In June 1948, US pilot Captain Thomas Mantell died while attempting to intercept a UAP. However, later data suggested that the UAP was most likely a US Navy Skyhook balloon (click here.) Writing about James E McDonald, in her 2003 book "Firestorm" Ann Druffel wrote "McDonald was satisfied that Moore's balloon-flight data explained the Mantell incident..." (Druffel. Wild Flower Press. p.72.)
Another US Skyhook balloon, in October 1953, crossed from the US to the United Kingdom (UK) and on 3 Nov 1953 was spotted near London by a Royal Air Force aircraft. However, it wasn't until "2004 that British Intelligence concluded this UFO was a Skyhook balloon." (Clarke, D. 2012. "The UFO Files." Bloomsbury. London. pp 57 and 163.)
A team from Bristol University in the UK launched 300-400 foot diameter balloons, in a cosmic ray research program which landed in such diverse places as Ireland and France. In July 1954 one balloon flew over London and caused flying saucer reports. (Clarke p.63.)
In February 1956 reports of a flying saucer flooded in from South Wales and England. A naval aircraft took off to investigate and flew to 35,000 feet. However, the object ws still higher than this. The pilot's log book notes that the object was "...probably a cosmic ray research balloon." (Clarke pp64-65.)
Sometime in the 1960's US Oxcart (click here) aircraft pilot Ken Collins was sent on a mission to locate "...a Russian reconnaissance balloon was flying across the United States, floating with the prevailing winds in a westerly direction...on direct orders by the Pentagon to 'hunt and find' the Soviet weather balloon visually and using radar...flying somewhere over the middle of the continent, Collins briefly identified an object on radar about 350 miles away...he never saw the balloon with his own eyes." (Jacobsen, A. 2011. "Area 51." Orion. London.)
In 1968 Madrid was the scene of report by hundreds of people who saw tetrahedron shaped UAP crossing the sky. Photographs (for one click here) were taken of the object. Research later determined that the object(s) were French research balloons (click here.)
Here in Australia, also in 1968, persons in Sydney reported a UAP in the northern sky, travelling along at a rapid pace. It turned out that the University of Adelaide had launched a balloon with a telescope attached, launched from Mildura in Victoria. (McCraken. K. 2008. "Blast Off." New Holland Publishers. Sydney.)
The following year, numerous reports were received from people around Amberley, Queensland, on 29 August. Witnesses stated that they saw a "balloon-like" object to the south. A RAAF Canberra aircraft located the cause of the sightings as a balloon over Milmerran at 6,000 feet. Later it was revealed that the balloon launching station at Mildura had launched a balloon on 25 August which failed to self-destruct and floated over south-eastern Queensland. (National Archives of Australia (NAA) file series A703 control symbol 580/1/1.)
On 19 May 1988, a witness was travelling by car near Bandendone, Queensland and at 1.25pm saw an object in the sky, reflecting "metal-like" in the sunlight. There was no associated sound. It appeared to be hovering before rising steadily as it travelled east. An Excite x-ray telescope had been launched by a balloon from Alice Springs, NT that day and appears to have caused the report. (NAA file series A703 control symbol 580/1/1.)
Thousands of meteorological balloons are launched from airports and other sites every day to obtain details of the atmospheric conditions. If you live near one of these sites you may, from time to time, see these balloons and their associated equipment ascending into the sky, or the equipment descending if the balloon itself has burst.
Since the mid 1990's hundreds of reports have been received by Australian UAP research groups, which describe either single, or multiple in formation, orange coloured lights travelling across the night sky. These observations have come from most Australian capital cities and many regional centres.
Investigation of thes reports indicate that the source are hot air filled garbage bags launched by individuals trying to cause UAP reports. The reports tend to come in clusters, e.g. around the Narre Warren area of Melbourne, Victoria in June 1996 ; Townsville, Queensland in July 1998. People have been seen launching these bags; and remains of bags have been found. These kind of UAP continue to be reported today. The latest known to me was observed from Mawson Lakes, a northern Adelaide suburb in early March 2013.
In the UK hundreds of UAP reports are believed to have been due to Chinese lanterns being launched into the skies, in recent years (for video click here.)
When analysing UAP reports, the possibility that the cause might be a hot air garbage bag; a meteorological weather balloon or a stratospheric large diameter research balloon should always be considered.