This is an interesting one.
There are some anomalies in the summary, inherited in part from the BB file
"the lights appeared to pass between the barn and the house"
That statement is in the BB summary and possibly gives the impression that
the barn was on one side of the flight path with the house on the other
side, somehow bracketing the distance. But this would be misleading. The witness'
report form and drawing and his interview with Hynek all make it clear that he came
out of the barn facing roughly NE with the house to the NE right in front of him.
The lights were about 60 deg up, coming from "directly overhead", heading NE
over the top of the house in a straight line away from the witness to the hill horizon 2 miles away.
"six lights estimated to be 1000 feet from the observer"
This is not in the report. The range of stated and implied distances during
the whole 3 minutes is between a few hundred feet and 10,000 ft. The witness
states 1200ft in one place, but this is not really intelligible without
specifying which part of the observation. The final distance was stated as
and 500ft imply a slant range in the brackets 175 - 865ft (mean 520ft). So,
as it happens 1000 ft would be the correct implied order of magnitude during
the early seconds of the sighting, but this is not an explicit witness
"moving at a speed of 20 mph"
This estimate is from the witness. But the witness was "fairly certain" that
the duration was 3 minutes, and Hynek could not get any of them to shift on
this point. But a total distance of at least 2 miles in 3 minutes is
obviously about 40 mph. Still, a factor-two inconsistency like that is not
of much consequence. They felt sure that the lights were moving slowly.
"The outstanding things in his mind were the very slow speed (as
if attached to a balloon), the floating sensation, and the extreme closeness
yet lack of sound",
which inevitably makes us think of balloons. In fact the
witness thought of a balloon, or dirigible, and Hynek and BB thought of a
balloon too. Obviously a large dirigible (estimated >100ft) crabbing
sideways for 3 minutes with no sound doesn't make much aerodynamic sense,
and anyway nothing was seen - just the lights. The idea was junked.
But apparently nobody considered the possibility of six separate balloons.
Taking the representative distance figure given by the witness and his
estimate that each light would have been covered by a match-head at arm's
length gives an angular size of about 0.3deg for each light and an implied
true diameter of about 6 ft or less. In other words, not a large object. Allowance
for a factor-two error here would bring the implied object size into the
range of (say) a dry-cleaning bag fire-balloon.
The "traffic light" red colour seems too intense for a simple fire-balloon,
and the regularity of the three-pair pattern seems too neat. Some allowance
might be made for the impression of faux rigidity and order that groups of
Thai lanterns - typically let off in twos and threes - are known to present
(based on hundreds of modern reports of this type). But usually strings of
these things stretch downwind, for the obvious reason, and tend therefore to
be aligned along the direction of motion, not (as in this case) exactly
perpendicular to the direction of motion.
Finally, the file states that the wind was from the NW. The handwritten
notes (presumably taken down from a phone consultation with weather
officers ) are hard to read but there may be limited data from four or
possibly five different sites here (can't make out what appear to be the
scrawled names), and there seems to be no doubt that wind generally was NW.
At one site balloon data are given up to 1000 ft and it is NW at all levels.
So if this truly represents the weather at Mt Airy, then objects moving
steadily NE simply cannot have been balloons if they were under about 1000
ft, at which height the wind was 330 deg, 16kt (18.4 mph).
So it's really, really tempting to put away these "slow", "floating", "extremely close", "silent" small red lights as wind-borne balloons. But it just doesn't work.
A classic UFO conundrum! What the heck were they?
I look forward to seeing this case in the context of the whole east coast 1965 wave as a whole. Keep going Fran
-----Original Message----- From: francis ridge
Sent: Friday, June 22, 2012 2:36 PM
Subject: [Current Encounters] March 8, 1965;Mount Airy, Maryland (BBU 9305):
March 8, 1965; Mount Airy, Maryland (BBU 9305)
At about 7:40 p.m. EST, Mr. J. H. Martin and his two sons observed in
the sky six lights estimated to be 1000 feet from the observer moving
at a speed of 20 mph with no sound. The lights ppeared as three pair
of lights and all the lights had the same intensity. They were
comparable to a traffic signal. The lights appeared to pass between
the barn and the house at an estimated altitude of 100-500 feet. The
lights flew in a straight line toward the hills two miles away. The
lights were in view for approximately 3 minutes.J. Allen Hynek stated
in a letter to Major Hector Quintanilla, Unfortunately this case
still remains unknown."
has been added to DECAT.