Have you seen a bright light zipping around in the sky and wondered if you were witnessing an extraterrestrial visitation? That UFO could have been a fancy remote control airplane lit up with LED lights.
As LED technology has advanced, they have become cheaper, lighter, and brighter. This allows remote control airplane enthusiasts to strap them to their planes, creating a nighttime spectacle that is often reported as a UFO. According to the Natomas Buzz, a local news website in Natomas, California, this has been the case in their area recently. James Scharlack and Dan Stuart fly their planes in Natomas regularly, catching the attention of many residents, including the police. Videos of their flights posted on YouTube have also been very popular. The Natomas Buzz says YouTube videos of their night flights have received more than 60,000 views.
A video of a mysterious blue light in Virginia in November 2010 made worldwide headlines. A few days after the video hit the news, the local Fox News affiliate reported that the blue UFO also turned out to be a remote controlled airplane covered with LEDs. The plane's owner, Tony Coleridge, says he flies it as a hobby with a local flying club. He says he can understand why people would mistake his plane for a UFO. He told Fox News:
When it's from a little bit of a distance you don't get a good airplane orientation. It's just kind of this fuzzy blue light. So I can see how it might be misunderstood as a UFO.
Although these hobbyists don't intend to fool the public, it is another demonstration of how advances in technology, even in the hands of the public, can appear otherworldly.
An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to Dan Stewart. The correct spelling is Dan Stuart.