2010 UFO Sightings, 2018 Disclosure Reveals Trash Bags To Blame

In 2010 a rash of UFO sightings across Somerset County, New Jersey swamped 911 and mystified locals. The incident remained mysterious for years—another unexplained mass sighting atop the pile of anecdotal evidence cited in defense of the UFO worldview, in which extraterrestrial or extra dimensional craft visit the Earth, for reasons unknown (though people have a lot of theories). But, unlike so many sightings with presumably mundane explanations, the truth of the Somerset UFO has finally been revealed.

In a Reddit thread titled "8 Years ago I caused a UFO panic" a New Jersey resident described how he and a friend, on summer break from college and bored, crafted the UFO out of trash bags.

Inspired by a high school science class "Solar Balloon," a trash bag balloon floats thanks to the sun warming the air inside the trash bag above the temperature of the ambient air, the duo had ambitions. They scoured area Walmarts and dollar stores for the thinnest black plastic trash bags they could find. "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," the UFO designer described on Reddit.

The UFO seen over New Jersey, shortly after launch. Reddit

After half an hour, their first balloon began to float and was soon out of reach. They built another and "got funny looks from cars driving by," until their second attempt was dashed against a tree.

It was only years later that the amateur hot air balloonist stumbled across an article by reporter Stephen Stirling, writing for NJ.com, and discovered their first effort, the runaway balloon, had caused the UFO flap.

8 years ago I wrote a story about a UFO sighting in Somerset County. Tonight, the kid that unwittingly caused it came clean on Reddit. Amazing. https://t.co/IldesEum7N

— Stephen Stirling (@SStirling) September 4, 2018

"We didn't mean to let it go," the balloon's creator, who prefers to remain anonymous, told Newsweek. "This wasn't intentional and we didn't realize anything had even become of it until years later."

If put to scrutiny, the vast majority of UFO sightings turn out to have mundane explanations. Even extraordinary cases, like the 2014 footage of a UFO filmed by the Chilean Navy, can be explained, in that case citizen investigators linked the UFO to local flight patterns. But various efforts to systematize UFO sightings—including the United States Air Force's multi-decade program, Project Blue Book—can only begin to account for the idiosyncratic. Blue Book concluded the vast majority of sightings were aircraft, balloons or astronomical phenomena, such as the planet Venus. A further ten percent were deemed likely hoaxes or "crackpot" cases. Still, about 22% of sightings researched by Project Blue Book remain unidentified. How many of these can be pinned on the bored and the playful?