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For Me, the Balloon Theory Doesn’t Fly

October 15, 2010

(I’ll be updating this article to reflect evidence coming in.)

A controversy has arisen over whether the phenomena seen above New York Oct. 13, 2010 were twelve balloons accidentally released by a parent of a Mt. Vernon schoolchild at 1:00 p.m.. The students were having a party for their newly-engaged teacher.

Here is the video in question.

I don’t doubt the story of the students and teacher, but I also don’t believe that balloons account for the sightings for the following reasons.

(1) Number of objects.

The students and teachers claim only twelve balloons were released. But, in the color-reversed portion of the only video I’m aware of that shows some of the objects, I counted fourteen and the witness on the video says he sees more of them.  Here is that video. The negative version begins at 1:28. 

If there were more than fourteen, that rules out the twelve balloons as accounting for the sightings.

In this Fox News video, a street vendor is quoted as saying that hundreds of objects were sighted at 9:30 in the morning. Hundreds at 9:30 would again rule out the teacher’s theory.

Also in this same video, a witness says he looked out his living room window and saw fifty objects clustering together. Fifty is more than a dozen and clustering is not what you’d expect from balloons.

Michael Salla, not citing his sources, says there were “several dozen” objects sighted. (1) All of these reports contradict the teacher’s conclusion that the sightings were of twelve balloons mistakenly released.

(2) Time of Sightings

In the Fox News video, a street vendor is quoted as saying phenomena were being reported at 9:30 in the morning.

Also in the same video, a witness says he looked out his living room window and saw fifty objects clustering together in the morning.

The ABC video reproduced below shows sightings at 5:36 p.m. We have two videos, reproduced below, that show UFOs over NYC late at night.

This collection of evidence shows that the sightings lasted from 9:30 in the morning until well into the night. This also contradicts the teacher’s claim that the sightings began at 1:30 p.m. and shows that sightings were occurring long after one would reasonable expect twelve light balloons to remain in the skies over NYC.

(3) Stationery for Hours

In the video of the more than fourteen objects, notice they are more or less stationery. Moreover, the various accounts of bystanders watching them also say they were stationery. At the beginning of this video, for instance, the eyewitness says the objects were standing still.

Michael Salla says the daytime UFOs “held a steady position for hours on end.”

I would expect that very small party balloons would be blown along fairly quickly by the winds. [Also see New York resident Ian’s comment below about thw inds above NYC being quite strong.]

The teacher says that the balloons were released from Mt. Vernon at 1:00 and she heard that the sightings began in Chelsea at 1:30.  Having travelled from Mt. Vernon to Chelsea in half an hour, why would the balloons suddenly stop over Chelsea and remain stationery for hours?  How likely is that?

Moreover, twelve small balloons blown from Mt. Vernon to Chelsea would be expected to scatter and yet the fourteen balloons in the video are clustered within the focus of the video camera. Again, how likely is that?

If you look at the objects in the CBS picture in the article that follows this one (that is, below), you’ll see they have the same general configuration as appears in the video.  If the CBS photo is different than the video (and it may not be), I would question whether objects as light as balloons would hold this regular a shape over time or be seen in different shots in the same configuration  I would expect the configuration of twelve balloons to constantly shift and change.

As well, in the nighttime videos of UFOs over New York, the craft can be clearly seen to be moving fast. Balloons would not move this way either (they have no means of propulsion) so even if the daytime objects were balloons, there would still remain the unexplained nighttime sightings over New York. Here are two versions of the nighttime sightings.

Some people have said that these nighttime videos show airplanes. But to them I would point out that the objects in these videos (1) hover, (2) move erratically, and (3) disappear and reappear. Moreover they don’t have the running lights that airplanes do. In the photos, some hover at the same time that others move. Airplanes do not hover. And, when the unidentified objects move, they appear to move faster than airplanes would.

If the Fox News report is to be believed, the UFO sightings started at 9:30 in the morning and involved hundreds of craft. The ABC report says there were still craft at 5:30 in the evening.

(I’ve just heard as well that Coast2Coast AM had a witness last night [Oct. 14-15, 2010] who said that UFOs were sighted over New York from 9:00 a.m. onwards.)

To my way of thinking, the teacher’s theory of twelve balloons being the substance of the sighting is contradicted by the observations of these other witnesses.

4. Shape and Color of Objects

Now go back to the Fox video where the reporter says that when her photographer zoomed in on one of the objects seen, he could see that the object had a tail to it. Moreover, it had a blue flashing light. That cannot have been a balloon.

Now look at this video. The object in this video is clearly not balloon-like in shape. See 2:22 to 2:26 for instance. And it’s yellow, whereas the balloons were white.

[I have seen no credible reports yet dealing with the alleged release of many yellow balloons from a downtown event and won’t treat that subject until I see some.]

5. Disappearance of Objects

Again in the Fox News video, one witness said the starlike objects would disappear and then you would see them again. This too is not the behavior of balloons.


At this point, I have to say that, while I don’t dispute the testimony from the students and teachers, I agree with the UFO hypothesis. I don’t doubt that balloons were released but I do doubt that they account for the sightings.

What do you think?

In the end, for me, only the truth is important, no matter where it leads.

Here is a complement of balloon-supporting stories to help you make up your mind.

A Local New York Area School Claims Escaped Balloons Are Objects in UFO Sighting

On Wednesday New York City residents claimed to see unidentified flying objects in the skies over the Chelsea area of Manhattan. It was reported that many people called the non-emergency hotline

311 reporting sightings of a UFO starting in the afternoon. On Wednesday evening groups of people were gathered around 8th Avenue and W. 23rd Street pointing and looking up at the sky according to local news station WABC Channel 7. By Thursday morning reports of the possible UFO had gone national with mentions on CBS’s The Early Show.

Eyewitnesses to the objects in the sky claimed to see lights and silvery balloon-like orbs. The Federal Aviation Administration – which regulates the skies around flight traffic – claimed they didn’t detect anything out of the ordinary during the time of the sightings according to the New York Daily News. The FAA went on to say they re-ran their radar and said that “there was nothing in the area.” Local law enforcement thought the objects could be balloons but hadn’t confirmed anything.

Now an elementary school north of New York City in Westchester County claims that balloons accidentally released from a teacher’s party were the “UFO” sighted two days ago. The Milestone School located in Mt Vernon, NY is located about 18 miles north of Chelsea. School Head Angela Freeman spoke on video with the New York Daily News. Freeman told the paper that they were holding an engagement party for a teacher and one of the student’s parents was in charge of balloons.

The parent accidentally released a cluster of 12 balloons when she was bringing them inside. The balloons from the party were silvery-white with silvery glitter embellishments. When Freeman woke up the next day and heard the news about the UFO, she immediately thought: “UFO?! Those are our balloons.” Freeman says she also came to that conclusion because the wind on that day was from the north.

NYC Sighting: UFO or Balloons
updated 58 minutes ago 2010-10-15T15:16:26

An illuminated, mysterious flying object spotted in the skies over Chelsea, New York prompted dozens of calls reporting a UFO and received national attention.

Now, it seems that the unidentified flying object could be some fly-away balloons.

Smoking Gun Research Agency, a nonprofit organization in Orange, has gotten involved after New York City officials did not provide any answers about what the object might have been, and looking into whether these could have been balloons from a party in Mount Vernon.

Milestone School in New York was holding an engagement party on Wednesday and wind swept a bunch away around 1 p.m., the New York Daily News reports.

From reports from the National Weather Service on wind patterns, it seems like this could be a possibility.

“We’ve heard from the National Weather Service in NY, who are looking in to confirming the weather patterns for Wednesday afternoon and suggest that if the winds were blowing correctly it’s possible it could account for the objects seen in the city,” Jon Nowinski, of the SGRA said.

Some speculated it was a balloon. Others were certain they saw a space craft from that was out of this world. It “stopped everyone in a two block radius,” one witness said.

SGRA, which researches “fringe” topics, including UFOs, ghosts, psychic abilities, strange creatures, and other subjects, contacted the FAA in New York and the North American Aerospace Defense Command. The organizations said they weren’t sure what the objects were, but said they had received reports and have seen the tape and did not deny that there were objects in the sky at the time, according to SGRA.

Did you see anything unusual in the skies on Wednesday? Let us know by clicking here to send an e-mail.

Follow us on Twitter @NBCConnecticut, on Facebook, and sign up for breaking news SMS alerts on your phone by texting “CTBREAKING” to 622669.

Air & Space

Kids Behind UFO Sightings Over Manhattan

By Chuck Bennett

Published October 15, 2010

| New York Post

Atomische / Thomas Giebel

The Chelsea UFO theories have been deflated.

The mysterious objects that hovered over West 23rd Street on Wednesday were almost certainly errant party balloons.

And they came not from Mars, but Mount Vernon.

“It was just a freak thing. Frankly, I’m shocked by it,” said Angela Freeman, head of the Milestone School in the Westchester suburb, where the cluster of balloons was inadvertently launched.

“The kids had an engagement party for a teacher, and a mother brought four dozen balloons, and she’s coming through the door. It is very windy in Mount Vernon. Suddenly, 12 of the balloons let loose.”

The cluster of balloons meant for language-arts teacher Andrea Craparo went skyward at around 1 p.m. The first “UFO” sighting was at about 1:30 p.m. When Freeman heard the news, she realized the “UFO” frenzy that brought parts of Chelsea to a dead halt were her balloons.

“It makes sense. The balloon just went right down the West Side,” she said. The sightings prompted several calls to 911, according to the NYPD.

National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Ciemnecki said wind conditions could have easily taken the cluster of silver and white balloons on that very course over Manhattan.

Even before Freeman came forward, veteran UFO-ologists were skeptical.

“It had the flavor of a cluster of balloons, in my opinion,” said Peter Davenport, director of the National UFO Reporting Center, a private research group based in Washington, DC.

Read more at the New York Post.


(1) “Michael Salla: Retired NORAD Officer Accurately Predicts UFO Appearances over Major Cities,” at

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2010 10:47 pm

    Very good analysis, Steve. It was reported that these objects in the sky were in one spot for quite sometime. These have to be some magical balloons to remain stationery for hours! I think the vast majority who have sighted and reported these incidents and those of us who have viewed it should be credited with at least a little intelligence. Truth will eventually prevail!

  2. October 15, 2010 10:12 pm

    Accurate deduction, Steve! However, in one of the vidos that you had compiled, there was a picture of yellow balloons bunched up together and tied to Street lights. Perhaps they were trying to insinuate that the objects up there were yellow balloons. But the rest of their theories don’t match. I am sure the teacher did not say that the balloons had lights (Now that would be something new to have glowing balloons) as opposed to the reports of the glowing objects. This is not a case of people wanting to prove Stanley Fulham correct or incorrect. The truth is everyone of us want to get to the bottom of it and very intelligently try to analyse what is going on. So this is not a scenario of wanting to see what we want to see. On the contrary all of us who seek the truth begin by being sceptical which finally leads us to the path of the truth after much thought and analysis. I think those who want to dismiss it off by claiming them to be balloons etc. do not credit the vast majority with any intelligence whatsoever. Eventually the truth will shout out loud and clear so that even those who deliberately remain blindfolded will wake up and take cognisance of the truth.

  3. October 15, 2010 5:55 pm

    Just have to say that one day post seeing the same in Santa Fe I figured I’d report the sighting. After a couple attempts I had talked myself into the fact that I and the others were seeing balloons. To my great surprise I stepped outside to smoke a cig. (yes, its true) the balloons appeared and formed a triangle then realigned in a vertical pattern. So, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Balloons…???

  4. Ian permalink
    October 15, 2010 5:07 pm

    Well written.
    Same thing I was thinking.
    I live here and work just a few minutes south in downtown NYC and it’s pretty easy to spot something and figure out what it is. At that height there are huge winds, temperature fluxes and of course balloons are not stationary! A breathe will literally move a balloon. Wish I hadn’t been inside all day that day!!

  5. Roberto permalink
    October 15, 2010 3:38 pm

    In October 13th, there was a campaign in Times Square to promote tourism in Madrid (Spain). They released dozens of yellow balloons.
    here is the link to the new in a spanish news website:


  6. Tom Magnussen permalink
    October 15, 2010 3:15 pm

    I see this as a good example of human bias. How about this: For those who want them to be Galactic space craft, they are Galactic space craft (They are absolutely UFOs. They are unidentified, they are flying, and they are objects). For those who want them to be balloons, they are balloons. Your get what you focus on. – law of attraction. 🙂

  7. philavox permalink
    October 15, 2010 2:04 pm

    This is the kind of rich follow-up one simply won’t find anywhere else.

    No stone left unturned…& cognitive transparency the net result.

    Great piece.

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