Confession: ‘I caused a UFO panic’ in NJ because of boredom
TRENTON — Someone has come forward and confessed to creating a UFO panic in Central Jersey in 2010.
Reports came into New Jersey 101.5, police and airports on May 13, 2010 of what looked like a large tube-like object in the sky over Middlesex and Somerset counties, according to a NJ.com account of the sighting at the time.
Among those to see the strange, unidentified object: Then-NJ 101.5 program director Eric Johnson and promotions director Ray Handel. They were driving to a meeting when they spotted it in the sky.
"We didn't know what it was," Johnson said. "It was a black cylindrical-type balloon, bigger than a kid's balloon. It was something that was flying and it was strange. We never really figured out what it was. We thought maybe it was a weather balloon related to a school in the area.
He remembered it was moving slowly, in a strange way.
"I remember us calling (New Jersey 101.5 mid-day hosts) Dennis & Judi, and then other people called in and said they saw it too," Johnson said.
But no one ever took responsibility for it until a post titled "8 years ago I caused a UFO panic" that appeared on the news site Reddit on Monday:
"One college summer break 8 years ago my friends and I were bored. We remembered a demonstration from a high school science class of a 'Solar Balloon.' This was just a really thin black plastic bag you'd fill with air, seal, and then set out in the sun. The sun would heat the air in the black bag and the bag would become buoyant and float."
The author of the post, under the username thatsboots3010, detailed how they drove to different stores looking for the thinnest walled trash bags they filled with a leaf blower.
"We spent a few days driving around to Walmarts and dollar stores trying different brands to find the thinnest possible plastic bag and thinnest tape which would work the best," thatsboots3010 wrote. "Finally we took a number of them, cut off the bottom ends, and taped them together into a huge balloon which we filled up with a leaf blower and then tied the end. After sitting out in the sun for a half hour or so we had done it!"
The balloon got away from them, but they made another, thatsboots3010 wrote. The second met its end crashing into a tree.
Johnson's memory was jogged when he saw a picture of it. "That's exactly what it was.That's it. That's the thing we saw."
thatsboots3010 wrote that he didn't know it was mistaken for a UFO until years later, when he came across a news article.
"Our boredom unintentionally created a UFO panic in central NJ. I moved out of the area but when I get together with my friend we always bring this up and have a good laugh."
thatsboots3010 has not yet returned a message sent via reddit.
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