|Occurred : 2/19/2003 17:49 (Entered as : 02/19/03 17:49)
Reported: 6/26/2003 10:46:32 AM 10:46
Location: Raleigh, NC
|Fireball drops out of late-afternoon sky in Raleigh, NC
I was driving home from work in RTP, NC on what I thought was a typical trip down I-40, heading east in Raleigh. As I approached the Highway 54 exit, I spotted a bright light in the distance, above the left edge of the road.
The light hovered in place, appearing to be a few miles distant. I thought it was simply a TV helicopter, out filming beauty shots of the traffic for the 6 o'clock news. My clock read 5:49 PM, a bit early for news footage.
But then the light did something alarming. It began to drop quickly out of the sky. I blinked to make sure it wasn't moving towards me and I was just seeing it wrong. But in spite of my doubt, it was doing just what I saw - dropping like a rock.
"Damn, that pilot is screwed," I thought. I believed I was witnessing a helicopter crash, possibly one that was being transmitted live to the area's televisions.
I blinked again. The helicopter couldn't have lost power, since it wasn't "autorotating" to the ground. If so, the light would surely be spinning around.
The light plummeted as I continued to drive. Then, just as suddenly as it appeared, it vanished, blinking out a few degrees above the horizon. I squinted in that direction but could not find any trace of it.
It took me a while to decide that what I saw wasn't the usual helicopter sighting. No sane pilot would drop a helicopter that fast. And there was no trace of it afterward. Very weird. I actually spent the rest of the trip scanning the horizon for signs of smoke plumes, on the chance I really did see a helicopter crash.
Thinking about it again later that night, I decided it could have been a flare. Why someone would shoot a flare into the evening sky is beyond me, as is how it could hover in one place as long as it did before dropping.
-- I put the above description in my journal for that date, but didn't consider reporting this event until today, 26 June.
((NUFORC Note: Witness describes self as having considerable technical experience. PD))