|Occurred : 1/11/2001 21:00 (Entered as : 01/11/01 22:00)
Reported: 1/12/2001 15:18
Location: Rockford, IL
|Formation of 10 yellowish glowing targets (night sighting) drifted SW to NE at 5-10 MPH, 1500' AGL then extinguished one at at time.
Submitter/observer is a licensed commercial pilot, 4000+ hours. Viewed approximately 10 yellowish glowing targets appearing to be small hot air balloons in formation. Balloons are presumed to be 4' high and 3' in diameter, containing a rag soaked in fuel oil mounted on crosswires in the balloon opening. Formation moved at 5 to 10 mph (estimated) from SW to NE. May have been approximately 1500' AGL. When approximately overhead, light began to extinguish, one at a time which would be consistent with fuel exhaustion.
((NUFORC Note: We believe witness means 2100 hrs., not 2200 hrs.. We have altered the time here. PD))
Dear Mr. ((name deleted))
Thank you very much for the excellent report.
Could I ask, how did you estimate the altitude, please? Did you triangulate from two or more Locations? Also, were there other witnesses with you who saw them? That is, were you alone at the time, or were there other people standing with you, with whom you were discussing the event at the time?
Do you know what the surface winds, and winds aloft at 3 and 6 were at the
time, by any chance?
Did you look at the objects with binoculars, by any chance, or with the naked eye only?
Finally, how did you establish what the combustible fuel was? Is that an assumption, or were you able to identify that it was fuel oil?
Thanks again for sharing the information with our Center!
Peter B. Davenport, Director
National UFO Reporting Center
PO Box 45623
Seattle, WA 98145
Hotline: 206-722-3000 (From 8AM to Midnight Pacific preferred)
Gracious, Peter. I hardly expected to receive a "personal" reply,
particularly so quickly.
Well, anyway. To address your questions.
The altitude was guestimated based on a hypthetical or presumed size of the
targets. In other words a 4' or 3' lighted object at approximately 1500'
might appear not as a pinpoint but a larger light point, yet not as large
enough to be definable as a vehicle or airship. I realize size and distance
are difficult to estimate, particularly at night when there is nothing to
calibrate with. But if you visualized a very tiny aircraft at a very high
pattern altitude that would be consistent with the sighting.
I was with a group of 20 to 30 people. Apparently the sighting had been
going on for several minutes. I was called outside to join the group for
the last 5 to 8 minutes of the sighting. At that time all of the points of
light became extinguished. There was much discussion and there has been
much subsequent discussion. The 3 local TV stations are collecting many
observations and theories. The sighting included perhaps 1000 or more
people in the area. There are reports of sightings from outside the local
area but it is difficult for me to believe that we are all talking about the
same sighting. Numerous amateur videos exist of this particular sighting so
comparison can no doubt be performed. You may receive other reports; your
web site was mentioned by one of the TV stations which is why I decided to
file this report.
Surface winds were calm. I'm not sure how to obtain past observations for
winds aloft. You may be able to do that for the date/time that I specified
for RFD. I would expect winds aloft at 3,000 to somewhat correlate with
what we appeared to observe, e.g. a movement from SW to NE over a period of
several minutes. Interestingly the RFD airport is located approximately 6
miles SW of the position where this observation occurred. Direction of
movement would have placed the path prior to our sighting somewhere in the
vicinity of the airport. If my theory is correct a possible point of origin
would be from rural areas south of the city.
No binoculars or other viewing aids were available. Sightings were
unsupplemented naked eyes.
Fuel source is a hypothesis based on color and apparent behavior, e.g.
yellow color, reasonably constant intensity with occasional minor
flickering. An observation that may have some significance is that the
light or flame of each target appeared to diminish before it died out, one
by one much as if whatever might be burning was ultimately consumed. During
the time that I observed, all targets eventually disappeared at an average
of 1 minute intervals.
I hope this is helpful. It will be interesting to triangulate various
reports. All the best, ((NAME DELETED))