Sunday, July 31, 2011

UFOs at Flagler Beach, Florida?

Here is a video from a "local news" station in Flagler County, Florida, reporting on an unidentified ball of flame which several Flagler Beach residents saw earlier this week at about 11 pm, descending towards the Atlantic Ocean.

According to the news reporters, the FAA was notified after several citizens called local law enforcement, and the FAA has confirmed that no aircraft were in the vicinity, and thus the possibility that the citizens saw a plane in distress has been ruled out. Furthermore, the Coast Guard apparently conducted a search of the waters off of Flagler Beach beginning at about 11:45 pm and called off the search at about 8am the next morning, having found nothing.

This has led some to speculate that the ball of fire could have been some kind of UFO. Others are dismissing it as nothing more than a floating Chinese lantern, as described in the news story below:

This particular story is of personal interest to me, as I have fond memories of a day of skydiving from the Flagler County Airport while in the area for a parachute meet during my years on the West Point Parachute Team. The photograph below shows my teammates and I with the beach and the ocean in the background, taken in December 1989 (your faithful author is the individual on the far left of the formation as you face it, wearing a black sweatshirt).

The area covered in this photograph can be seen in the Google Map, below (the arrows indicate the approximate line of sight and edges of the photographer's field of vision). You can see the line of Interstate 95 cutting across a diagonal near the lower left corner of the photo, and the line of Highway 100 / Moody Boulevard running towards the ocean in the right side of the photo and taking a bend to the left as it nears the coastal town of Flagler Beach. The pier in the videos above is located almost precisely along the line of Highway 100 / Moody Boulevard, to the right of the rightmost skydiver in this photo.

The presence of a skydiving community near Flagler Beach gives rise to another possible explanation for the activity discussed in the videos above. Rather than a rogue Chinese lantern, perhaps the mysterious light was the result of the following scenario: a prank-loving skydiver took a Cessna up to about 11,000 feet and jumped out, activating pyrotechnic flares or powerful lights attached to his boot or lower leg either while in freefall or after deploying his parachute. He could then have spiraled down for a beach landing, collected up his gear, and been out of there without leaving a trace for the Coast Guard to find when they began their search an hour later.

In any case, I did not notice any alien activity on any of the skydives I made while in Flagler County in 1989. I did notice a pretty nice-looking wave in the first video above, at exactly the 1:00 mark. None of the surfers in the video are actually near that wave, which does lead me to believe that something strange was going on in the area around Flagler Beach when the video was taken.