UFO UpDates
A mailing list for the study of UFO-related phenomena
'Its All Here In Black & White'
Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2011 > Jul > Jul 13

Re: 'Fireball' Redux

From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2011 17:35:39 +0100
Archived: Wed, 13 Jul 2011 07:13:04 -0400
Subject: Re: 'Fireball' Redux

>From: Peter Davenport <director.nul>
>To: <post.nul>
>Date: Mon, 11 Jul 2011 13:22:27 -0700
>Subject: 'Fireball' Redux

>To the List:

>On January 09th of this year, I posted to the List a summary,
>together with links, of some of the more dramatic sighting
>reports of peculiar 'fireballs' that had been submitted to
>NUFORC. The colors reported for the objects were red, orange,
>amber, gold, and yellow, but generally red and orange.

>Over recent months, the phenomenon has continued, seemingly
>unabated. Moreover, many of the reports seem to be of quite
>bizarre events, which seem un-ascribable to normal pyrotechnic

>On July 4th, and again on July 6th, I posted to the NUFORC site
>newly received reports, many of which appear to fall within the
>category of reports that I address above. Although some of them
>might be the result of pyrotechnic devices, most of them appear
>to me not to be.

>As an example, I invite List members to read the report from the
>EMS/ambulance helicopter pilot in Cleveland, OH, who witnessed a
>very peculiar object from the cockpit of his helicopter in the
>early morning of July 04th, as he was initiating an engine
>start. What he witnessed caused him to halt the engine-start
>process, get out of the cockpit, and run to alert his co-
>workers, in order to have them witness the bizarre object.

>Here is a link to his report:


>His illustration of the object can be seen on the NUFORC
>homepage. When I spoke to him yesterday (July 10th), I asked
>him whether he thought the object might have been a July 4th
>pyrotechnic device. His response to the question is best
>described as a scoff and guffaw.

That is not a scientifically useful datum. Read the witness's
description of what he saw, which does contain scientifically
useful data, and apply some rational thought to it.

On 4th July he saw what appeared to be a round, red-gold-glowing
object, featureless except for what looked like "flames" or
"electrical fire". He believed this object was moving steadily
East to West along the lake shoreline. From the very vague
description you have of where he was located ("3 miles east of
downtown Cleveland", looking towards the lake shore and the
approach path to Cleveland Hopkins airport) it appears to me
that he was a few miles from the shore and looking broadly
north. But as you, Peter, must well know, there is no way for
human vision to determine distance by stereoscopy at ranges
beyond a few tens of metres. Beyond this, distance can only be
inferred from other secondary visual cues (angular rate, angular
size, obstrcution by nearer objects, apparent atmospheric
extinction etc) combined with assumptions about the nature and
behaviour of the object concerned. In the case of an unfamiliar
light of unknown size, construction and "performance", such
assumptions cannot be assumed to be reliable. Conversely,
without knowing the true distance, inferences about the true
size and true ground speed cannot be reliable either.

What the witness means, therefore, is that by plugging in
certain assumptions about the nature and size and speed of the
object he judged that it was at a distance of a few miles. If
asked how he knew it was that big, he would have to reply
'because of how far away it was". Peter, you need to show us and
the witness how to escape from this self-referential circle of
reasoning in order to prove your contention that this object was
truly strange.

You show no interest whatever in doing so. Until you do, all you
can say is that what looked like a ball of flames of unkown true
size and speed appeared to move E - W at an unknown distance. To
the witness it appeared to be 10-20 ft across and a few thousand
feet up, travelling 150 kt at a range of say 5km. But applying a
factor-ten scaling it could equally have been a ball of flames
1-2 ft across a few hundred feet up, travelling at 15 kt at a
distance of 500m.

The residue is consistent with a 4th July Chinese/Thai lantern
or fire balloon. As it approached the end of its E-W course it
appeared to turn away and head out over the lake to the NW. I
deduce that such a heading must have been roughly in the line of
sight from the witness at the time and therefore could be
consistent with an illusion of recession due to the fading and
extinguishing of the light rather than flight away from the

Of course you can make a good case against this 'triage'
interpretation, and justify your plea for us to get excited
about a mystery, by showing us the detailed study you have made
into angular rates and directions and weather records, proving
that the direction(s) of apparent motion was(were) counter to
the local winds at any low level where a fire lantern might fly.
Where is this study, please?

>Also, we just recently received a report from a life-long


>[Begin Copied Report]

>"I was sitting in my backyard facing north at about 22:45 hours
>on July 4th, 2011.

>In the sky to the north of where I was sitting, a large orange
>spherical shaped object was travelling very slowly from east to
>west. It did not appear to be burning or fiery, just a glowing
>orange color.

>My family has a history in avionics (my father flew a B-17G in
>WWII and I flew cargo with him for years after the war) and,
>from my own personal experience, I would have to estimate the
>size at about 75-100 feet in diameter, about 1,000 feet up in
>the air and travelling at about 2-3 knots.

>The object travelled about 75-100 yards at this speed then
>immediately ascended in a northerly direction at a highly
>accelerated rate. It did not "bank" like you would expect from
>an aircraft, it immediately switched directions.

>I could not detect any sound coming from the object or its

>I watched it travel in this direction until it was out of my
>line of sight."

>[End Copied Report]

You need to be challenged, Peter, to produce clear and
quantitative arguments as to why this could not have been a 4th
July fire balloon. From Flint, MI, north of the lake, an orange
glowing ball moves at a slow angular rate E - W, the same
direction as reported later the same night from Cleveland south
of the lake. As at Cleveland, a departure in the line of sight
is reported. The witness was looking up to the north at the
object "travelling very slowly" E-W for an estimated 300ft or
less, when it appeared to ascend rapidly to the north - i.e.,
away from him - until it was lost to sight.

>Over the seventeen years that I have served as Director of
>NUFORC, I have not seen anything like what appears to be taking
>place currently. NUFORC has received a veritable "torrent" of
>reports of "fireballs,"

Has it occurred to you that these fire lanterns have become
enormously more popular and more widely available during those
17 years?

>for which there seems to be no adequate
>explanation. It suggests to me that something is taking place
>right under our noses, and above our heads, that is being
>largely ignored.

You have not been ignored. On the contrary, what is the point of
repeatedly inviting the List's attention to your stories if you
ignore the List's responses?

I reacted constructively to your first 2010 post inviting
opinions about orange fireballs on New Year's Eve, without
reaction from you IIRC. I then made what I think was a fairly
full response to your repeat of the same thesis about the 4th
July fireballs, asking you to consider and clarify a number of
issues that could explain and justify your strong contention
that they were unknowns. Again this was all conspicuously side-
stepped or ignored by you.

Now here you are again, telling us that no-one wants to listen.
Whether you hold me personally in such contempt that my
contributions are beneath your notice, or whether you are
disinterested in any information or opinion which does not
validate assumptions you find congenial, I neither know nor much
care. Either is your privelege; but neither is constructive is

Martin Shough

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast



These contents above are copyright of the author and
UFO UpDates - Toronto. They may not be reproduced
without the express permission of both parties and
are intended for educational use only.

[ Next Message | This Day's Messages ]
This Month's Index |

UFO UpDates Main Index

UFO UpDates - Toronto - Operated by Errol Bruce-Knapp

Archive programming by Glenn Campbell at Glenn-Campbell.com