National UFO Reporting Center Case Brief
Jun 18, 2002 - Plymouth, New Hampshire

NUFORC Home Page


Event Identified as Flares:

We post this statement, following our posting on June 20, 2002, of a summary statement of the events that occurred over central New Hampshire at approximately 21:20 hrs. on June 18th.

We express our gratitude to the many people who submitted information to the National UFO Reporting Center, following our appeals in the Laconia, NH, "Citizen" and on the Jeff Rense radio program for additional information about the events over Plymouth, NH, on the evening of June 18, 2002.

Based on the several excellent follow-up reports we have received, we suspect that the incident was caused by flares, expelled by either F-16 or A-10 aircraft, possibly from the Vermont Air National Guard. This is a tentative conclusion, but is based on what appears to be reliable information from seemingly capable observers.

We include here two of the more convincing reports, which were particularly informative, and instrumental in causing us to reach this conclusion.

((BEGIN COPIED REPORT #1))

I recently read a letter to the editor form Director Peter B. Davenport of the National UFO Reporting Center regarding some unusual events on 6/18/02. I witnessed the "unusual" event at 9:15 on my way home from work. (I am a ((deleted text--public employee)) I watched as an aircraft dropped flares approximately every 2-4 seconds. The aircraft was approximately 1,500 to 2,000 feet above ground level. I could only see the marker ligts of the aircraft initially. I watched this activity from my back deck for a few minutes. I did not think much of it because I routinely observe military aircraft of various types training in and just south of the Sandwich Range (the southern most range of NH's White Mountain National Forest). A few minutes later, I recognized a UH-60 helicopter briefly touch down at the Moultonborough Airport (I live next to the air strip). Every so often, citizens of my community become alarmed when military aircraft stray a little south of the Sandwich Range.

((END COPIED REPORT #1))

((BEGIN COPIED REPORT #2))

I am a ((text deleted--public employee)) in the Lakes Region of NH. I am also an avid night sky watcher, but I do not profess to have a great knowledge of the constellations. On 6/18/01, Tuesday, at between 2045-2115 hours I was sitting in the parking lot of the local Burger King which overlooks the lake. This location looks west and north. I first noticed the lights in the cloud cover that appeared to be fireworks but realized it was too high in sky. The location of the lights were in the North and appeared to over the White Mountain area, possibly the Sandwich, NH area. After a short while I used my binoculars to watch and could clearly see white strobe lights of aircraft. I realized then it was jet fighters who have often practiced over the White Mountain area. As seen on tv shows, they were clearly dog fighting or doing practice bombing or strafing runs and dropping the the "chaff" or flares, to practice avoiding anti-aircraft fire. The show lasted about one half hour and they left and flew to the west. I believe there are F-16 fighter places in Vermont with the Air National Guard, and have seen A-10's many, many times in the Sandwich. NH area. There were several flights coming and going from Laconia Airport, at which time NO planes were illuminated by any strange lights. This was clearly and without question a training flight of some sort and nothing at unusual happened. PS. when the flares were released, they appeared to be in a counter-clockwise direction, forming an arc and always being about 6 in number. I hope this helps with any questions people might have.


Original Posting Below:

At approximately 2015 hrs. (Pacific) on Tuesday night, June 18, 2002, the National UFO Reporting Center began receiving telephoned reports of a dramatic aerial event that had occurred approximately 90 minutes earlier in the vicinity of Plymouth, New Hampshire.

We post a report here, principally because 1) the event reportedly was very dramatic; 2)it was witnessed by multiple observers on the ground, and perhaps in the air; 3)it was witnessed by at least one law enforcement officer (NH State Patrol); and 4)it is quite similar to a number of other events that have occurred over the U. S. over the last two and a half years.

The first witnesses to call NUFORC were a husband and wife, who reported that at approximately 9:00 p.m., as they were driving east on State Highway 25, they suddenly became aware of a very bright, "yellowish" object in the eastern sky ahead of them, apparently above the cloud layer. They estimated its (apparent) size to be approximately one-quarter the diameter of a full Moon, and they emphasized how extremely bright it appeared to be.

They stopped their vehicle on the side of the road to get a better look at the peculiar object, at which time the object appeared to "expel" a number of seemingly smaller, equally bright objects. The smaller objects seemed to maneuver above the clouds at first, then perhaps dropping below the clouds and taking on the appearance of a "boomerang" shaped formation. At one point, the light on the far left side of the formation suddenly moved quite abruptly upwards, and to the opposite side of the formation, ruling out the possibility of its being a flare, the husband thought.

A New Hampshire State Patrol officer pulled up to the witnesses' car, apparently to inquire whether they were experiencing any difficulty.  According to the witnesses, the officer, who was facing west and who therefore may have seen the formation only in his rear-view mirror, made a comment about a nearby radio tower, and then drove off. At the time of this writing, that officer has not returned our telephone call to his barracks, requesting to speak with him.

The couple added that they witnessed, both visually and aurally, many of what they thought were probably military jet aircraft in the area, beginning approximately 10 minutes after the last yellow light had disappeared from their sight.

A second married couple was witnessing the same events from their home in Guilford, NH. They, too, reported multiple events, involving extremely bright balls of light, generally "yellowish" in color, to the west of their location. They reported witnessing three separate events, and they added that one cluster of small yellow lights appeared to maneuver together as a group. One of the lights may have been in close proximity to a light aircraft that was taking off from Laconia, NH, airport. The husband, who has flown light aircraft, emphasized how dramatic the display appeared to be to him.

On the day following the event, NUFORC spoke via telephone with a senior officer in the NH Army Air National Guard, located at the Concord, NH, airport. After consulting for a minute with another officer, the officer reported to us that his unit had had extensive military training operations in the area on the previous night, involving their UH-60 "Blackhawk" helicopters, and lasting until "2300 hours." Moreover, he pointed out that the exercises, which he asserted had been announced in local news media, were in support of that unit's being deployed overseas in the near future.

We also spoke with FAA personnel at the Nashua, NH, and Burlington, MA, FAA facilities. They reported that none of their personnel were aware of any unusual air traffic activity in the area of central New Hampshire on the previous night. However, they added that it was an area in which military activities are sometimes conducted, and that a low-altitude training operation could occur, and the FAA would not necessarily be aware of it. They added that if fighter aircraft had been in that area, the FAA almost certainly would have been aware of the activity, but their personnel almost certainly would not be able to comment on such exercises.

This event may have been the product of some military operation, but many of the facts reported to NUFORC do not appear to us to be fully consistent with such a scenario. First, we would be surprised to learn that any military unit had released multiple flares over forested land and a populated area. Moreover, the exercise would have to have taken place in the vicinity of a number of airports, where private aircraft can fly by Visual Flight Rules (VFR), and without flight plans. The presence of private aircraft in the proximity to such a military operation would pose an extreme danger, it seems to us.

Also, when asked whether the aircraft they had witnessed on the prior night could have been helicopters, the witnesses were unanimous in stating they could not have been, that the aircraft they had seen and heard were consistent with military jet fighters.

At the time of this writing, NUFORC cannot rule out the possibility that the events might have been caused by some type of military activity. However, that possibility seems unlikely to us, given what has been reported to us in Seattle.

We find the event quite interesting, given several similar events, involving bright yellow or orange luminous spheres of light, that have been reported to NUFORC since February 2000. To read the reports about those other events, please see the links shown below:

Prescott, AZ February 4, 2000

Rockford, IL February 11,2000

Rockford, IL February 16,2000

Carteret, NJ July 15, 2001

None of the events has been satisfactorily explained, and they still remain a mystery.

We would welcome brief written reports from anyone who might have been witness to the events over central New Hampshire this past Tuesday night.

Prepared by:

Peter B. Davenport, Director
National UFO Reporting Center