Jun 07, 2017 I Brett Tingley

Google Balloons May Be Behind String of Idaho UFO Sightings

For various reasons, UFO sightings often occur in sprees or clusters. Whether that reason is an actual increase of anomalous aerial activity, the work of copycat hoaxers, or psychological suggestion is often up for debate. Over the last several weeks in Idaho, a string of similar-sounding UFO sightings were reported to NUFORC, the National UFO Reporting Center. All of the eyewitnesses in each case reported seeing odd lights in the sky, sometimes moving strangely. After receiving numerous calls about unexplained lights, southern Idaho news station KMVT now reports that these lights are likely the work of Google. Well, sort of Google.

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Google is testing new balloon technology above Idaho.

According to a recent news statement, the lights are balloons being tested as part of Project Loon, the initiative which aspires to offer “balloon powered internet for everyone” by flying wi-fi-beaming balloons into rural or undeveloped areas. Loon is currently led by X, a branch of Google’s secretive R&D wing formerly known as Google X.

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A Loon craft being tested in simulated high-altitude conditions.

Loon has been testing their balloons in Idaho since last year, about the same time NUFORC began receiving large numbers of reports of lights above Idaho. The Loon balloons currently being tested in Idaho can be tracked on flight radar here and here.Compare the images of their balloons with this alleged UFO sighting filmed last year:


In Loon’s promotional images, the craft do appear quite otherworldly. Each Loon balloon has a bulbous, illuminated orb with a long, wispy tail trailing underneath it containing solar panels, antennae, and a host of electronics.

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Google wants Loon to be a "network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to extend Internet connectivity to people in rural and remote areas worldwide."

One of the NUFORC reports, in particular, seems to describe one of the same jellyfish-like vehicles Google Loon is testing as it reacts to shifting winds:

Saw a bright light going really fast from the west to the east. The craft stopped abruptly and started coming back from west to east. It then stopped again and was zig zagging all over. The lights would get really bright then dim. We could almost see a tail of some sort coming from behind or around it.

Some of the details of the NUFORC reports don’t seem to match up to images or descriptions of Google Loon balloons, however, although there are plenty of reasons why eyewitness reports can become tainted with misperceptions or why illuminated wi-fi balloons could appear from the ground to be something quite different entirely. 

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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