A clerk at the Tern Hill Hall Hotel told UK newspapers that the launch of Chinese lanterns for a wedding reception was behind the mass sighting of UFOs by soldiers and civilians on June 7, 2008. However, some experts disagree. Even if the lanterns were released as claimed, they would have been too small to account for the objects that were witnessed, photographed and filmed. Mark Hanley, a British UFO Researcher says that he has investigated many cases involving the release of Chinese lanterns.
"These objects are easily identified." Hanley says. "The size, colors and shape of the objects from the Tern Hill Hotel do not match what people described or photographed… Lanterns burn up after a short time and do not behave in the manner described by witnesses of the UFOs observed on June 7th… The hotel told me that they announce the release of lanterns in advance to avoid complaints from residents and local businesses that say they are a distraction and may cause fires." Hanley claims that the hotel has been cited by local fire authorities on previous occasions.
Hanley's statements are at odds with those of Stuart Willett, the manager of the Tern Hill Hall Hotel. Willett says, "We've had inquiries from residents before, but it's the first time it's been classed as a UFO." He claims that the hotel has not previously announced the release of Chinese lanterns, but Anna Musgrave disagrees. She is a local resident and owner of a business that is near the hotel. According to several UK newspapers, Anna says: "I had one of those lanterns land on my property (prior to this incident) and the ____ thing caused damage. The hotel staff told us that they would be launching those ______ things, but there was still damage. I complained to the authorities…"
Whether or not the hotel was responsible for the June 7, 2008 sightings is a question that literally remains up in the air. However, that's not the only sighting that some people are trying to debunk. The sighting of what the Shropshire Star newspaper called "a huge unidentified object rising from the ground towards a police helicopter in Cardiff at 12.40am on Sunday June 8..." is now also being blamed on the Chinese lanterns, despite the fact that they would have all burned up long before that encounter.
David Clarke, a self-described "UFO expert" that helped the British government prepare the MOD files on UFOs for public release told the BBC: "Call me cynical, but what are the chances that a flying saucer would come down from outer space in exactly the same place where lanterns have been released?" He fails to notice the time discrepancy or perhaps doesn't care. Since most UFO researchers believe that many of the MOD files were whitewashed before being released, his opinion should not be seriously considered.
The helicopter crew involved in the UFO incident made it clear that the object they saw with their eyes could not be seen with night vision goggles. Marshall Clayton, an employee of Night Owl Tactical (maker of night vision goggles) says that would not be the case if what came at the helicopter was a Chinese lantern. "Any object that is self-illuminating would easily be seen with the goggles. Especially if it has an active flame… a candle or battery powered light would stand out."
It's important to understand that other objects were seen and photographed on the dates of June 7-8, 2008. Shaun Williams, 12, was taking some daytime photos with a digital camera near his house. When he got home and reviewed the photos, a classic disc-shaped UFO appeared on one of them along with an aircraft he was trying to photograph against a clear blue sky. Shaun said, "I couldn't believe it when I looked back at my pictures and this strange object was there." The object did not resemble a Chinese lantern in any way, shape or form.
It's been over thirty years since Steven Spielberg shocked audiences with his ground-breaking film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The film was fact-based with fictional characters. It's sad to see that, so many years after its release, the news media is still obsessed with a need to provide skeptical explanations for each and every UFO sighting or encounter. They still believe that the burden of proof is on us, but do not hold other news stories to that same standard.
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