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UFO's spotted over Naples, Florida Tuesday Sept 17th '10

Sometimes an official explanation is not nearly as satisfying as alternative theories. Many coastal residents from Marco Island to Fort Myers Beach wondered if they were witnessing a supernatural occurrence when a mysterious light display appeared over the Gulf on Tuesday night. The lights, which were recorded by dozens of camera phones and have been posted on YouTube and Facebook, showed-up miles offshore and glimmered on and off for at least 20 minutes, according to witnesses. Those who saw the incident say orange or yellow lights appeared flickering in stationary patterns across the sky before fizzling into darkness. Moments later, new lights would appear in different patterns — V-shaped, straight lines, in circular patterns. This phenomenon continued sometime between 8 and 10 p.m. according to Naples Fire Department Chief Steve McInerny, who reported that dispatch received scores of 911 calls about the lights. Several residents sent photos to the Naples Daily News describing the occurrence as a UFO incident. Stephanie Ward, a Naples resident who saw the spectacle after leaving a bar near Vanderbilt Beach Park, said she could come up with only one explanation. “I thought it was a UFO for sure,” she said. “It was pretty intense,” The official story that authorities have released offers a far more earthly — and for some witnesses, less believable — explanation. Senior Airman Katie Spencer, a spokeswoman for the Homestead Air Reserve Base, said Air Force jets were performing routine training exercises in the Gulf, and the lights were merely flares dropped by aircraft. The Air Force owns air space dozens of miles offshore southwest of Naples; in the area the lights were seen. Spencer said F-16 jet pilots were practicing the release of flares that are used as defensive measures for evading enemy fire. She called it a routine training exercise. Ward, a lifelong Naples resident, said she has never seen anything like it. When it comes to the varying shapes formed by the lights and the fact that they appeared to remain stationary, according to several witnesses and some video footage, the official explanation leaves something to be desired for the UFO believers. “We don’t have an explanation as far as the patterns,” she said, after watching an eight-minute video of the incident on YouTube. “We were just training.” Ian Carrier, another spokesman for the base who had not been briefed on Tuesday night’s lights, had speculated that the flares may have been attached to parachutes. “They come down real slow, and it looks like they’re just hanging in the air,” he said. However, Spencer, who talked with the base’s pilots about the training exercises, said there were no parachutes on the flares. “They were flares, and flares fall,” she insisted. She said perhaps people could not perceive the movement from miles away. Kevin Dinger, an East Naples resident training to be a student pilot, said he has never seen flares like what he saw Tuesday night. He said at one point he saw orange lights moving across the horizon of the sky. The Daily News has not been able to confirm that other witnesses saw this movement. Dinger suspects something else is going on, though he is hesitant to disclose his theory. “I don’t want to be the crazy guy to go on TV,” he said, “but the military can say anything they want. Is the Air Force telling the truth? Or do they just not want people to know about what they are really doing?” When asked if her explanation would answer the skeptics, she said, “They can be skeptical. These are flares that the military uses. What they perceive and what (the lights were) is different.” She encouraged those intrigued by Air Force Reserve exercises to come to a Nov. 15 and 16 air show at the Homestead base. Carrier chuckled at the alternative explanations to routine Air Force training exercises. “Unfortunately, the stuff we do is a lot more mundane than people think it is,” he said. “I wish we had cool stuff like UFOs.”

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UFO's spotted over Naples, Florida Tuesday Sept 17th '10