By Larry Robinson

This report is a personal account of things I have seen in the sky. Although these objects were initially unidentified, continued observation or following investigation made the identity of these objects very clear.

Updated 06/16/2017

July 4, 1958: I was at my grandmother's farm in Bridgeport, Illinois, waiting for it to get dark enough to have fireworks. I saw a yellow-orange light about 30 degrees up in the western sky. I thought it was a missile test launched from a silo. As I watched, another one, this one red-orange, rose up from behind the trees. As it climbed, it changed to orange. The original object moved slowly to the northwest as the new one continued to climb in the west. Both were heading in a northeast direction. As the first one moved to north of me, it went out.

My grandmother said, "Oh, them's just fire balloons sent up by teens over at Sumner. They been doin' it all week. We used to make those when we were kids." (It's interesting that the candle-balloon prank is over 100 years old.) We had our fireworks when it got dark enough. Then Dad got out a war-surplus Very pistol. He fired red and green flares into the sky over the farm.

The upper photo on the right is a fire balloon seen in the air (what I saw). The lower one is a close-up photo of a fire balloon (the wax coated cardboard type) being launched.

fire balloon

July 6, 1961: I was riding in a car with my father in Indianapolis IN. I saw a silver ellipse flashing brilliantly in the daytime sky. It seemed to be spinning. The long axis was horizontal, and it was flashing, it seemed, about 4 to 8 flashes a second. I first saw the object in the north, but when I last saw it, it was in the west (although that proved to be the motion of the car I was riding in). It finally disappeared behind a large tree we passed. I wondered what kind of aircraft it was.

Two days later, I got one for my 10th birthday! It was a spinning kite with an aluminum foil surface. Printed on the kite were little portholes with cartoon aliens peeking out. It works on the principle of the s-foil wind turbine.

Two UFO photo cases show the same object. One occurred in Old River Louisiana on January 12, 1967. The other case was a series of photos taken on June 27, 1967 by Jefferson Villar in Wichita Kansas.

ADDENDUM: On March 29, 1998, I bought another one of these kites. The surface of this one is made of reflective Mylar diffraction grating, and produces brilliant flashing colors when the sun shines on it. The effect is best when observed from 100 meters or more from the kite. There, the whole kite seems to flash one color at a time as it constantly changes color. No aliens are printed on this one, but the package says "UFO-SAM KITE" on it.

spinning kite

October 12 1961: We went to a drive-in movie at the Twin-Aire drive-in, at the corner of Keystone and Hoyt (in Indianapolis IN), where I saw a row of bright white lights with a red light over it and two green lights under it. This collection of lights was in the sky behind our parked car. The white lights seemed to appear at one end of the object, move across, and disappear at the other end. It looked like a slowly rotating disk with lights around the rim (right).

Then it flew closer, and I could now see that the lights were letters moving across the sky. It was an ad for the Autorama car show at the State Fairgrounds. The lights were on an electric sign attached below the wings of a small airplane.

Triangulation has since shown me that this was the same UFO news commentator Frank Edwards saw on that date. (I did not find out about the location and date of his sighting until 1996, The description, date, and time all match.)

We went to that Autorama car show, where they had the "car of the future". Here is a picture of it. It was a hovercraft.

Link to solution page

Frank Edwards
Car of future

Summer 1964: In Bloomington IN, I saw a set of lights that looked like airplane navigation lights in the night sky. Behind it was what looked like a stream of white sparks trailing from the plane. I said to my father, "Look, a rocket powered plane!" As it came closer, we could see it was an electric sign being pulled behind a plane. It said: "GIVE TO THE UNITED FUND."

This matches the case at San Diego, California on 03/13/1961.

Fall 1965: I saw what looked like a satellite in the night sky over Bloomington. It was tracing a wobbly course through broken clouds. I mentioned that this might be one of those new satellites that change course I read about in Popular Science. My dad told me to look again. It was a star, and the clouds were actually tracing the wobbly course as the wind shifted.

Spring 1967: Several of us were at an ice-cream stand in Bloomington IN. We saw a soft, fuzzy blue-white ellipsoid looping around the night sky above the parking lot. Occasionally it went behind the roofs of buildings on either side of the stand. Then it went in front of one roof, and landed in a nest on a ledge. It was a light colored bird reflecting the new mercury-vapor floodlights that lit the parking area. The bird was catching insects flying toward the lights.

Spring 1967: I saw a sparkly thing tumbling end-over-end overhead in the daytime sky in Bloomington IN. It seemed to be transparent between the sparkles. It turned out to be a plastic bag blown away by the wind, flying about 200 feet up.

Spring 1967: I looked up and saw a giant cigar shaped object that was bright orange against the blue sky. It looked to be larger than a plane. An orange projection was hanging down. Then it tilted, and I realized how badly I had been misled. It was a Monarch butterfly, seen edge-on. It was flying just above our roof in Bloomington.

Summer 1976 0239 EST*: I was sailing my sailboat on Lake Monroe, Bloomington IN. Suddenly I noticed an extremely bright pinpoint of light in the northwest sky, about 20 degrees north of the sun. It brightened until it was as bright as the sun. Two motorboats approached me from under a bridge, and I had to look away. When I looked back, it was gone. I think this was just a reflection of the sun off an aircraft or a satellite. It remains unidentified only because I do not know what was really there.

Summer 1978: Looking to the east from a cabin in Tri-Lakes IN, I was amazed to see a large plump silver sausage reflecting sunlight. It was heading south. Suddenly it shrank to about a third of its thickness, and shortened slightly in length. I then realized it was a DC-3. This was my first experience with the expansion of an image by halation. This is an effect that makes a bright image larger by scattering light in the retina, on film, or in a video camera. It is sometimes called camera burn in TV.

On April 12, 1990, I saw this effect again. This time it looked like a curved silver hot-dog. The vertical fin added to the reflection and made the curved shape. But this new one was a jetliner.

Summer 1979 2020 EST: I was at a drive-in theater in Bloomington IN, waiting for "Star Wars" to be shown. I saw a curved line of yellow lights rise up in the west from behind the screen. It had a red light over the line, and the line of lights moved slowly from right to left. New lights appeared on the right, and old ones went out as they reached the left end of the line. It was another advertizing plane. This one said "United Way fly in. Torp Aero - Monroe County Airport." One man thought it was a blimp with a sign on it before it came close.

Ad Plane

Summer 1980 2050 EST: I was standing in line at a movie theater to watch "Close Encounters of the Third Kind - The Special Edition." In the east, I saw a bright ball of orange light shoot up from the ground into the night sky. It assumed the shape of a mushroom cloud, faded and went out. A few seconds later, I heard a noise like sharp thunder. After the movie, I returned home to find the power off.

The next day, I read in the paper that a large building supply transformer at a shopping mall had exploded, making the fireball and report. It also caused the power failure in a section of Bloomington.

May 7, 1984 2010 EST: Three bright blue flashes of light lit up the sky in the west over Bloomington. Then a cloud of dust rose from the spot. I was walking home from a mall on the east side. When I got home, the telephone rang, and I was called away to repair an electronic power control system at Indiana University (my job at the time). I found out shortly that the very old Princess theater (downtown) had collapsed, tearing out power lines, and causing a power surge that damaged the control system.

August 30, 1986 1320 EST: I was at a festival in downtown Bloomington, when I noticed two bright sparkling objects near the crescent moon in the blue afternoon sky. I watched them for several minutes. Then a child near me started crying. She had lost her Mylar Tweety-Bird balloon. I watched it as it ascended, and it took on the same sparkling effect as the silver parts of the balloon reflected the sun.

January 1990 2000 EST: I was walking up the driveway of a friend's house at night. I looked up and saw seven blue-white lights arranged in a V. The point of the V was in front as it moved west. Each light varied in brightness in about a half-second cycle. As it came closer, I could tell that each light was a goose, because one honked. They were reflecting the streetlights lighting the parking lots of three nearby shopping centers.

The 1951 Lubbock Lights return?

Many times, 1978-1995: I saw a bright white or red cylinder flying north or south. The objects were always in the eastern sky near sunset. Through binoculars, I was able to resolve a jet airliner the third time I saw it. The fuselage was reflecting the sun toward me, but the wings and tail were not. An airway runs just east of Bloomington.

Many times, 1973-1995: I have seen an irregular black shape bobbing around in the daytime sky, which on closer inspection turned out to be a kite. One time in 1978, a kite looked like a pink and blue wooden top in the sky. Another kite in 1986 looked like a large magenta, yellow, and green heating register with crossed louvers. This one was similar to a parasail.

Summer 1991: I looked up and saw a bright pink star in the night sky. Since pink is an unusual color for a star, I watched it. It brightened, then expanded until it was larger than a star. As it expanded, it became dimmer and started looking like a cloud. The cloud became dark red and faded out. The next day, I read that a satellite was periodically releasing clouds of barium to allow scientists to study magnetic and electric fields in the very thin atmosphere above the earth.

Spring 1993 2230 EST: A brilliant light hovered in the east. It slowly rose in the night sky. Suddenly it rose quicker and flew overhead. As it passed me, the light went out, and a small green light replaced it. It was a plane with its landing lights on, going to the airport. Once the plane had passed me, the landing lights were no longer aimed in my direction, and they no longer masked visibility of the navigation lights.

August 2, 1996 1750 EST: I saw in the south a blue rectangle with a grey triangle under it in the daytime sky. The rectangle was the angular size of a distant plane, the triangle was smaller, and about a full moon diameter separated them. The sharpest point of the triangle was in front as it flew east. It turned, and the blue rectangle turned into a crescent with the tips down, while the triangle turned into a rectangle. It was an ultralight airplane with a parasail for a wing.

November 16, 1996 1620 EST: Looking west, I saw a gray rectangle with a hot dog shaped object sticking out of the back of it. The entire object had the angular size of a distant plane. The rectangle was 3 times as wide as it was high. The "hot dog" was as wide as the rectangle, but only 1/3 as thick. It was attached to the center of the back edge of the rectangle. The object moved very slowly south, against the wind. I saw it through the bare trees at the west end of the city park I was in. I walked toward it, and had to pass a stand of thicker trees to get past the tree line. When I reached the other side, the object was gone.

Two days later, I called the airport, and they identified this object as two signs being towed behind a plane for display at a football game. The stadium was to the north, but the object was moving correctly for a plane returning to the airport. It was an elongated rectangle with rounded ends was attached behind a taller rectangle. The towing plane had already been behind the tree line. I later saw this advertising sign again.

June 5, 2004, 2245 EDT: Looking east from the corner of Clarizz and Covenanter, in Bloomington IN, I saw an object up in the air. It looked like a large white arrow with red barbs and red stripes on the shaft hovering near the intersection. It was constantly rotating so the point of the arrow went clockwise (as seen from below) about once every 10 seconds, and tumbling so first one face of the arrow and then the other face was visible. One face had more red than the other. The arrow seen edge-on was thinner than the width of the shaft seen face-on.

I drove around the area and determined by triangulation that the object was about 50 feet above the ground. Then I stopped the car in a parking space and watched this object for about 5 minutes. It continued this behavior, drifting slowly north. Then I left the area to go to a business before it closed. When I returned 15 minutes later, the object was gone.

This turned out to be a helium-filled Mylar toy balloon depicting a cartoon character (unknown, possibly a superhero or an IU football player). It seemed to be about 4 feet tall, and seemed to have striped pants.

July 3, 2007, 2145-2245 EDT: Looking southeast, I saw an orange flickering light rising above a campus building. As it rose, it started moving toward the north (with the wind). As the object continued to rise, it increased its northward motion. About 45 seconds later, when it was almost due east, it faded out to invisibility.

About 25 minutes later, a similar object appeared. This one lasted longer, with a duration of two minutes. It was brighter, and it also made it to slightly northeast of my location. Other people saw it.

About 35 minutes later, another similar object appeared. All three followed very similar paths. This third one flew over the July-4 fireworks display. It lasted about a minute before fading.

These were most likely fire balloons launched by students, either as pranks, or to "add to the festivities."

Update: These were Sky Lantern fireworks, which can be bought at fireworks stores. See the photo near the top of this page.

July 4, 2013, 2245 EDT: Looking east, I saw many green objects with orange centers rise from the area where a July-4 fireworks display had just ended. Each lasted several minutes before fading. Each had an angular size of the full moon when first seen, and diminished in angular size as the objects flew away.

These were Sky Lanterns launched by those setting off the fireworks to add to the festivities. I counted 31 of them.

These Sky Lanterns can be bought at fireworks stores. See the photo near the top of this page.

June 6, 2017, 2000 EDT: Looking overhead from the Menard's store in Bloomington, I saw something moving southeast through a thin low cumulostratus cloud layer. I originally thought it was an airplane seen through the clouds, except that the shape was wrong. It was a rectangle with about the aspect ratio of the American flag, but with the front where the top of the flag would be - wider than long. It also seemed to ripple like a flag in the breeze, which is why I thought of a flag. The object seemed almost ethereal - I could see the sky through it.

The object had red parallel stripes running from front to back along both sides, but the center was quite indistinct from along the front to back axis. As I watched it through the clouds, I expected to see more of it when it came to the end of the clouds. Instead it disappeared. It faded out when the clouds thinned out.

This one puzzled me for 4 days. Then a friend asked me if it could have been one of those advertising banners towed behind an airplane. I said no, because the shape and the orientation were wrong. But I had seen such a banner earlier in the day, and it was white with red letters. That sparked an idea. What I saw was a shadow of a banner on the clouds. It was probably being towed farther west of me (where both the airport and the auto sale being advertised were).

The shape was wrong and the image was indistinct due to the variability of the thin cloud layer and the angle of projection of the shadow. The sun was low in the west.

*Note: Most of Indiana did not observe daylight-saving time until our stupid governor rammed it through in 2005, with it starting in 2006. So these times (except the ones after that date) are without the added hour for daylight time.



July 17, 1956; Natal South Africa: Elizabeth Klarer took these pictures. For some reason, she used a cloud filter. The object is a plastic "Spin-O-Reno" toy. It is a plastic plate with a deep rim on the bottom, so it can be balanced on a stick like circus performers do. I got this for my birthday that year. The photos were in a magazine I got in 1967. I later found out that she was a contactee who described breathing "pure Venusian air," Venus is now known to have an atmosphere of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid, which casts doubt on her story. I still have this object, because I folded down the rim, and got the best throwing disc I ever had for straight flight.

Spin O Reno toy

April 24, 1959; Piata Beach, Itapoan Brazil: Helio Aguiar took this series of photos. The photos kept nagging my mind: "I know what this is!" Then, in 1996, I was repairing my Collaro Conquest record changer, and suddenly realized that I was holding the Aguiar UFO in my hand. The object is the change-cycle drive wheel from this record changer, minus its rubber tire. I have a few spare drive wheels, and some of them look like the one in the picture.

March 1966; Wall Township (what county?) New Jersey: Robert Salvo took a picture showing an out-of focus object. I recognized it as the ball release wheel of my Digi-Comp II computer. This is a device that gives a demonstration of how a computer does arithmetic. It uses marbles instead of electric currents, so the user can watch it work. It really can run programs, but it takes a long time to run a small one. If I didn't own the computer, I would never have recognized this object. Edmund Scientific sold it in the 1960s as an educational toy and teaching aid.

March 28, 1966; Conisbrough England: How could I ever forget my favorite toy? These objects are roof panels with skylights, from a Kenner Girder and Panel building set (a toy sold in the 1960s. I had several of these sets, along with several Bridge and Turnpike sets, a Hydro-Dynamic set, and a Build a Home and Subdivision set. These were used to build a model city in the basement for most of my school years.

Kenner roof pannels