Mufon field investigator, Eddie Middleton talks about an older , “Drone-like” UFO report with ‘jellyfish' like properties:
Giant jellyfish/drone-like object sails across backyard in mid-town Memphis.
In June 2005 Linda Howe received from a lady in Memphis, Tennessee one of the strangest UFO reports I have ever read. Kathleen Deaton who lived at the time on Harbert Street in Mid-town Memphis said that on that hot Summer afternoon she was sitting on her back porch when she suddenly noticed at the far end of her yard about three or four feet over her garden an incredibly bizarre-looking, airborne object that was moving slowly towards her. She described it as an enormous, elongated jellyfish-like thing, somewhat helicopterish in structure, approximately five or six feet in length with a large, spherical-shaped head (or control cockpit) in the front and a body that tapered to what looked like some kind of tail or rudder. It was silvery in color and somewhat diaphanous in appearance. [It's hard to describe something like you ain't ever seen before!] The thing made no noise that she could detect. As it moved closer to her, following a smooth level path above the ground , she noticed more details. It seemed to have some kind of antennae on top of it. When it got at close range, not more than three or four feet away from her, it appeared like it could possibly be some kind of hybrid---artificial UAV and living creature combined---the real stuff of science fiction!
Kathleen was absolutely frozen in awe watching this thing. When it stopped at the foot of her porch stairs, she had the strong impression that it was taking cognizance of her and going through some kind of decision process what to do next. This extremely uneasy moment lasted only a few seconds. Then it slowly rose up just enough to clear the top of her roof and passed on over. Kathleen immediately ran through her house to get another view of this thing as it flew over her front yard, across the street, and then over the roof of the house on that side before disappearing into the distance to the North. She reported this to the police who didn't quite know what to make of it except to guess she had seen some kind of balloon. And so concludes the essential details of Kathleen's report.
And now to the main point of my article. As a MUFON Field Investigator, I was utterly fascinated when I read this account and wanted to do a full investigatrion of it. I was also somewhat appalled as this sighting had occurred just a few blocks from where I lived! I tried to contact the witness, but to no avail. She was not even listed in the phone directory. I called Linda Howe, and she didn't even know how to get back in touch with Mrs. Deaton. MUFON FI's sometimes have to deal with this kind of frustration. I was, however, absolutely determined to still investigate, as far as I possibly could, this extremely weird sighting that had practically happened in my own backyard.
I talked to an expert on weather balloons at the National Weather Bureau in Memphis. She looked at the artist's depiction on Linda Howe's website of what Kathleen claimed to have seen . This spokesperson said it could well have been a weather balloon because its size, shape, and color pretty well matched-up with what weather balloons in general looked like. She went on to tell me that every day at least one weather balloon was released between 4am and 6am from three different locations within striking distance of Memphis : Nashville, Little Rock, and Paducah, Kentucky. She said one of these balloons could easily have strayed as far as Memphis. She DID say, however, that for this thing to have been that low to the ground and coming across Mrs. Daton's backyard in the fashion she had described would have been very unusual but certainly within the realm of possibility. Another spokesperson I talked to at the Weather Bureau said that usually weather balloons when they run out of Helium , explode in the upper atmosphere. One thing the expert told me was that there would have been some kind of package hanging underneath the balloon. And this was not mentioned in Mrs. Deaton's account of what she said she saw.
Being as thorough as I could in my MUFON detective work, I also checked out the possibility that Kathy had seen some kind of Helium balloon that had strayed from Liberty Land which is in Mid-town at the Fair Grounds not far from her neighborhood. Liberty Land would have been in full swing in June of 2005 though it was permanently shut down in October of 2005. Robert Charles who was operating a Magic Shop at Liberty Land at that time told me that they were celebrating their 30th anniversity that month and had all kinds of Helium balloons out there.
So, using Occam's Razor, the most "logical," mundane, down-to-earth weather balloon explanation seems possibly plausible enough. It would certainly have been the "explanation" that a skeptic like Michael Shermer or Phillip Klass would have given and been quite comfortable with. As a MUFON Field Investigator, I would have had to have classified Kathy's sighitng as an IFO (Identifed Flying Object) ; that's because it is the scientific protocol at MUFON to always opt for the natural explanation of strange sighting reports whenever possible. That keeps the skeptical scientists happy and MUFON's reputation as a scientifically respectable research organization intact, but as for me personally, I cannot escape the feeling of strangness from this report. Who knows? This might have been one of those Sky Cirtters (living UFOs) that Trevor James Constable photographed in the late 50's and early 60's or possibly one of those darn drones that were being photographed with cell phones a few years ago. And, of course, one cannot rule out the possibility that Kathy was just telling a tall tale. But I will say this : if she was, I would still like to locate her so I could get her to enter a liers' contest and share some of her winnings with me.
Source: Nashville Examiner