|Occurred : 6/18/2002 20:00 (Entered as : 06/18/02 2000)
Reported: 6/22/2002 10:13:34 PM 22:13
Location: Moultonboro, NH
Duration:1 hrs. approx.
|Lights in sky in New Hampshire, Tuesday, June 18, 2002 a military training exercise.
I am a police officer in the town of Moultonboro. On Tuesday evening I received a message from my dispatcher advising me that a subject in Gilford, NH observed flares shooting in the sky in the area of Red Hill, a small mountain in Moultonboro. I and the other officers on duty set up strategic observation points and observed no such flares or lights. About 30 minutes later I was near the Moultonboro Airport, a small private unattended airport, and observed a military turbine helicopter (I was unable to determine the type because it was dark but, from my experience, it appeared to be a Blackhawk.) make an approach to the airport, land and then take off. This is not unusual as I have observed military helicopters making practice approaches to the unattended air strip in Moultonboro in the past. Shortly thereafter, I observed what was clearly a military aircraft flying in an area north of Moultonboro, most likely over the town of Tamworth or Sandwich, dropping flares. My dispatcher radioed me and advised me of a resident in Tamworth observing a military aircraft dropping flares.
I am also a pilot and have flown in this area extensively over the past 17 years. The geographic location of Moultonboro is at the north end of Lake Winnipesaukee and at the southern edge of the Yankee One and Yankee Two MOAs. These two military operations areas encompass most of the White Mountain National Forest. We live and work just south of the White Mountains. (A New York VFR sectional map clearly shows these two MOAs.) I have observed dozens of military operations in this area over the 25 years we have lived here, especially at night. I have also contracted through the Carroll County Sheriff's Department to fly drug interdiction for the Nat. Forest Service and have flown all over the White Mountains and, while doing so, have observed Military jets flying operations at tree top level in this area. I have also been involved in the investigation of a military jet crash about 14 years ago that was participating in a training exercise in this area. The Yankee 1 & 2 MOAs are primarily used by reservists flying out of Otis AFB on Cape Cod, the Air National Guard out of Concord, NH and I also believe aircraft from the Brunswick Naval Air Station in Brunswick, ME. It was also used for a training area for aircraft out of Pease AFB before its closure several years ago.
All the lights and flares I observed Tuesday night definitely came from military aircraft. I am certain that anyone else who observed these lights were watching the same aircraft I was. What puzzles me, was the number of calls that were received regarding these observations. This type of military operations in our area is not that uncommon. Granted, most military operations take place farther north, deeper into the White Mountains which is virtually unpopulated. However, this is certainly not the first time I have observed military aircraft engaged in training in our area. This is especially common at night. In response to your comment regarding dropping flares over forested land, the dozen or so flares I observed being dropped from aircraft Tuesday night burned out long before reaching the ground. I hope this answers some questions and clears up some of the mystery of this event.
((NUFORC Note: We are grateful to this witness, and the several other witnesses, who submitted reports in response to our letter-to-the-editor to The Citizen newspaper in Laconia, NH. Based on the information available to us currently, we believe that the most likely explanation for the event is flares launched by military jet fighters. However, this explanation does not appear to explain away all aspects of the event that have been reported to our Center. We are uncertain as to what caused the event. PD))