Multiple reports of military helicopters "chasing UFOs" in the Anaheim, CA, area throughout February 2014, appear to be a combination of military training exercises and man-made sky lanterns, according to a March 4, 2014, statement by Cinde Costello, Southern California Chief Investigator for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).
Witnesses in and around Anaheim have been filing UFO reports with MUFON in February and March 2014 detailing how it appeared that helicopters were following orbs of light or a sphere-shaped object.
Costello has been following these reports closely and points out that the area has a high degree of regular, normal military activity to begin with - including almost constant military air training from the Camp Pendleton base.
"Most recently there's been some increased military activity here from January 23, 2014, to February 24, 2014, due to 'Exercise Iron Fist 2014.' This was a joint U.S. and Japanese military training exercise based out of Camp Pendleton."
Two of the six reports MUFON received, Costello said, may, or may not, have had anything to do with Exercise Iron Fist. They are: Case 54101 from February 15, 2014, and Case 54168 from February 19, 2014.
These two cases, and the other four MUFON received, are part of a larger story Costello said began with Case 54034 from February 11, 2014, that was filed on February 12, 2014.
"When the witness became startled due to a low-flying helicopter while inside his house, he then noticed his backyard lit up by the helicopter's spotlight. When he went out back to see what was going on, he saw a white 'orb' traveling from the west towards the east. Then he saw the helicopter shine its spotlight on the orb and, when doing so, it disappeared, but then reappeared when it wasn't being illuminated by the spotlight. He then watched both the helicopter and the orb, travel off towards the east, where the orb appeared to fade in and out, until he couldn't see either anymore."
The latest MUFON report, Case 54430 from February 11, 2014, but filed on March 3, 2014, may be a second witness to Case 54034. Costello said this second witness was located 3-4 miles due east of the first witness in the same time frame.
"He also reports seeing a white 'orb' being accompanied by a helicopter to his northeast, and further claims that he tried to chase them, but lost sight of them as they continued along an easterly path. The weather conditions at the time of these two events were: temp. 57-deg. F.; humidity 89%; Wind blowing from the SW at 3.5-mph; and scattered clouds at 30,000-feet."
The next report, Case 54101 from February 15, 2014, occurred in nearby Huntington Beach, Costello said, where the witness was right at the beach.
"He first heard, and then saw, a military jet traveling off the coast approaching up from the south, and heading north. This was out over the ocean, where it is extremely common to see all sorts of military activity, including routine air patrol. He claims that he saw a white 'orb' ahead of the jet, and it seemed to him like the jet was chasing the 'orb.' This scenario is consistent with military live fire exercises, but alternately it's also possible that he may have confused the bright landing lights from an incoming airliner for an 'orb.' Either way, not technically UFO-related as both are man-made."
The next set of sightings occurred on February 19, 2014.
"The first one, Case 54167, at 7:45 p.m., from Anaheim/Garden Grove was just west of Disneyland. Witness reports viewing one low-flying helicopter, which appeared to be 'chasing a metallic sphere.' They too claim that the helicopter had its spotlight on the object, but further state that, while viewing it, it suddenly 'changed its shape into a disc,' and sped off towards the east, with the helicopter in hot pursuit."
The second case for this date - February 19, 2014, is Case 54168, that occurred at 7:48 p.m. from Anaheim Hills - which is approximately 20-miles away from the location of Case 54167.
"I do not feel that this one is related to the previous one, as the witness reported being 'startled' by two very loud, low-flying military helicopters, and then noticed a small, bright white 'orb' ahead on the same path as the helicopters, then as the helicopters were approaching near the location of the 'orb,' it disappeared for 2-3 seconds...and this is where it's entirely possible that her imagination intervened here, as she now speculates that, 'It then reappeared, having gained significant distance, further separating itself from the helicopters that were obviously worried about this thing, and were at max speed chasing it.'
"I feel it was more probable in this event - Case 54168 - that the witness did see two military helicopters, because it's not unusual to see military helicopters in this area, as they often travel to the one of the many bases we have here...but the 'orb' in this case was, in actuality, a sky lantern. People, especially in this area, love to launch sky lanterns. The weather conditions at the time of these two events were: temp. 58-deg. F.; humidity 81%; calm winds, with ceiling clear."
But Costello was very pleased with a more recent sighting because the witness provided original video captured during the event.
"Case 54345 on February 27, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. from Anaheim Hills, was my 'Rosetta Stone' for figuring out what was going on down in Orange County though. This one was the only report with photographic evidence, in the form of a video.
"In this one, the witness claims that he heard a 'military' helicopter coming from the east and then states that, a large bright, white orb was being followed - or escorted by some type of military helicopter. He reports that they both went overhead and continued west, when the white glowing 'orb' slowly vanished from view as he caught it all on video. Then he claims that, 'the object seemed to have jumped to the right hand side of the sky instantly; being seen glowing in the clouds that are due for rain.' At this point, the helicopter continued until it traveled out of sight, on its own. Video available. Please forward to 'Coast to Coast A.M.''"
The witness in that case provided this piece of video for the MUFON report.
"The minute I watched the video, everything clicked into place. That was no military helicopter - it was a law enforcement helicopter. I could tell just by the sound of the engine and rotors. The LE helicopter did appear to check-out the 'orb,' but the orb was a sky lantern and nothing more. The minute that it winked-out the officer continued right on with his patrol. By the way, the Anaheim Police Department has a very busy Air Support Unit, which is stationed at the Fullerton Airport, just west of Anaheim Hills."
Costello points out three additional cases that may be related.
- Case 54171 - February 7, 2014, Garden Grove, 9:30 p.m. - Consistent with Sky Lantern.
- Case 54182 - February 15, 2014, Garden Grove, 7:45 a.m. - Consistent with Helium Balloon.
- Case 54151 - February 16, 2014, Cypress, 8:15 p.m. - Consistent with Sky Lanterns- At least 8 of them.
Costello provided a summation of the six cases previously reported on:
- Case 54101: Military Aircraft - possibly associated with "Exercise Iron Fist 2014."
- Case 54168: Military Helicopters, but their travel not associated with the sky lantern.
- Case 54034, 54430, 54167 and 54345: Law Enforcement helicopters, and sky lanterns.
Why so many sky lanterns in this area? Costello is concerned.
"Yes, I do feel that many of these lanterns are connected with a group of hoaxers - probably teenagers or young adults, and it's quite possible that they may be launching them with two things in mind. First, to get a rise out of people - these lanterns are being launched at around the same time of day, in the early evening, and in locations near a major freeway - usually the '91.' And second, to annoy and distract the local Police Air Support Units."