March 07, 2008-WHAT glows orange, scours the skyline and leaves a black plume of smoke?
Annette Van Zetten is not exactly sure what she saw shooting across the Tweed skyline on Wednesday evening, but it certainly grabbed her attention as well as the police and rescue authorities. The Kingscliff woman was home entertaining friends about 5.30pm when she saw a bright orange object, seemingly not far from her Pacific Street home.
Fearing a plane was in trouble, Mrs Van Zetten's friend, Greg Swaney, called police, who immediately began searching the area with the aid of a crew from the RACQ CareFlight helicopter. Mrs Van Zetten said she was sitting on her back deck when she spotted the unidentified flying object.
"It just sort of looked like an orange glow," she said. "The shape of it was like a flying saucer.
"It didn't look like a plane. It was definitely going down and then we saw black smoke so that's when we thought perhaps a plane was on fire."
Ms Van Zetten said it was hard to judge exactly how large or how far away the object was.
"We don't know how big it was. We thought maybe it was about 10km (away), maybe around Cabarita. It was hard to tell."
As airfields and airports in the region began accounting for their aircraft on Wednesday night, police received reports of further sightings of the orange glow. With no reports of missing aircraft, the helicopter search was called off after about half an hour.
Police from Kingscliff, Tweed Heads, Murwillumbah and Byron Bay continued looking for any sign of the object before the search was called off. Sergeant Rob Taylor of Tweed Heads police said it was likely an object had streaked across the sky on Wednesday. "There is some credibility given that a few people have reported seeing something," he said. He said police were fairly confident the object was not a plane but that it may have been a meteor.
"We've got no craters or anything like that," he said.
Byron Bay police conducted an early morning search of bushland near the beach yesterday morning, with no results.
Sydney Observatory astronomy educator Mel Hulbert said although there was no record of major meteor activity on Wednesday night, the light in the sky over Kingscliff was likely to have been caused by a type of meteor known as a bolide.
"There are a couple of meteor showers that are running at the moment, but neither of them peaked yesterday," she said.
"Probably what we've seen is a bolide. A bolide is just a larger piece of debris. Meteors are generally not that big. Most of the ones we see are about dust grain-sized.
"Usually most of the meteors that we see burn up completely. Having said that, we estimate that we get a rock fall to Earth once every two hours."
source & references:
Archived UFO Articles and News Items, 2008
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