|Occurred : 7/9/2004 09:55 (Entered as : 07/09/2004 09:55)
Reported: 7/9/2004 3:58:11 PM 15:58
Location: College Park, MD
Duration:about 5 minutes
|Bizarre omega-shaped tube of vapor, four degrees high (4 moons), while blue and white helicopter circles
Hi Peter, It was nice talking to you earlier, despite the necessary haste because of your impending trip to Denver, etc.
Don't you think maybe the potentially leading term "craft" should be left out of your reporting form? What my wife and I saw this morning was something other than a "craft", I suspect, yet it was quite bizarre. It involved a 'something' shaped exactly like a vertically oriented Greek letter omega, complete with the small 'wing' out to each side at the bottom. The 'thing' seemed composed of a very solid-looking tube with pointed ends that was of a bright white, opaque-looking, and highly coherent 'vapor' (or something else). It subtended about four full moons or two degrees in height (somewhat less in width), as measured objectively by my wife using fingers at arm's length, and by me, independently.
The Omega-like thing hovered at about 42 degrees elevation in our north-northwestern sky while a brand-new-looking (very clean, bright paint) blue and white helicopter circled several times between us and it at only a couple of hundred feet (maybe 300-400 maximum) just to the east and southeast of the 'thing', until the thing suddenly began to disintegrate or dissolve as a white vapor that was quickly carried away to the east on low-level winds that were the same as at ground level. Then, the helicopter flew off.
It was the extraordinarily noise of the low-level, circling (in a N-S oval) helicopter (that had just flown into the area) that caused my wife and me to look up in its direction and, as a result, see the bizarre omega-shaped thing hovering what seemed, subjectively, no more that a thousand feet to the northwest of the elliptical path of the helicopter.
The helicopter departed once the 'omega' began to disintegrate, after having completed several traverses of its elliptical path.
I have subsequently learned the identity of the helicopter and the name of its pilot, plus the phone number were I should be able to reach him early in the morning (Saturday). Anything I learn from the pilot will be relayed to you.
I would stress that this definitely was not a jet aircraft's condensation wake, nor was it an ordinary low-level cloud, by any stretch of the imagination. Whatever it might have been, it gave the impression of being of artificial, and at least to us, anomalous in origin.
We live just inside the northern edge of the Washington, D.C. Beltway (I 495), and a short drive west of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.
I ran inside to get the camera but could not locate it, so I ran back out while my wife (who had watched in the interim of my absence)went in and found the camera and came back outside with it. By that time, the object had disintegrated, with the residue drifting east. I took several photos of the vapor drifting east along with small clouds and trees for reference, in order to show that the residue was drifting on the lower-level wind and not with the atmosphere higher up where jets fly.
The observation was not frightening, but it seemed quite bizarre, that impression enhanced by the elliptically circling helicopter just to the omega's east and southeast, and only while the object was there. It will be interesting to learn whether the pilot saw the phenomenon, and I have learned the pilot was "on a photo mission", so he might even have gotten photos. I shall not hold my breath, though, because the pilot and anyone else aboard may have been distracted downward because it was a photo mission. If not the observed phenomenon, I wonder what they were trying to photograph in that area. The photo objective may have been something prosaic, however, although I can't help but hope they saw the phenomenon and took photos.
Within six minutes after the observation, I checked the ELF magnetic environment with one of our instruments, but found nothing magnetically anomalous in the monitored range.
I would judge, subjectively, that the vertically oriented (at least from our view, and seemingly relative to the ground) 'omega' was located approximately over the intersection of the northern side of the D.C. Beltway (I 495) with I 95, going north and south toward and from Baltimore.
It was so windy this morning that I am confident the 'omega' was not 'skywriting', and, furthermore, being just north of D.C. within its beltway, we are in a highly FLIGHT CONTROLLED zone. A skywriting aircraft would have been attacked by the Air Force, immediately. Furthermore, sky writing would not have hovered in the sky, as did this phenomenon before its 'disintegration'.
I hope no one tries to read anything into the fact that the phenomenon was omega-shaped, even though I could think of some political commentary. :)