The UFO that appeared in the sky over a Canadian minor league baseball team, leaving many scratching their heads over its identity, has turned out to be an unlikely hoax.
Unlikely because it wasn't anything perpetrated by an individual or a group of kids flying a sophisticated kite or build-it-yourself remote controlled device. This one involved a planetarium deploying a drone, not quite like the armed unmanned aircraft deployed by the military, but a drone nonetheless.
Here's the video that started it all.
The incident unfolded in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Sept. 3 in the sixth inning of a game between the Vancouver Canadians and the Everett AquaSox at Scotiabank Field's Nat Bailey Stadium.
In the sky above the right field section, an object resembling a flying saucer was spotted and videotaped. It appeared to be ringed by a row of bright lights.
Part of what made the video questionable was its short duration. If the person filming the incident truly spotted what might be an alien visitation, why does the camera zoom out quickly? The entire clip ends in 20 seconds. One would imagine that the videographer would zoom in as much as possible, if he or she were actually witnessing a genuine phenomenon.
Now it turns out that the nearby H.R. MacMillan Space Centre was behind it all.
The Space Centre says it built a drone shaped like their new planetarium and flew it around Vancouver. Working with a local ad agency, they developed an "extreme teaser campaign" to try and draw more people to the new building.
Watch this Globalnews.ca video where the UFO drone is finally revealed.
"The goal of the faux UFO was to create a buzz about the new planetarium viewer experience... The Planetarium Theatre at the Space Centre underwent a half million-dollar upgrade this summer," according to their press release.
The ad agency that worked with the Space Centre informed Alejandro Rojas at Open Minds that the UFO campaign didn't involve the distribution of any hoaxed images or videos to UFO bloggers or media sources. They "simply flew the drone and posted a few images and clips. The Internet did the rest."
The promotion crusade includes the following public service video depicting a UFO-shaped building flying to the Space Centre site and landing permanently where the old building stood:
While one video of the Space Centre drone reportedly received more than 200,000 YouTube hits, how did it affect attendance at the new planetarium?
"The buzz we are creating seems to be working as attendance is up 65 percent compared to this time last year," said Space Centre's executive director Rob Appleton in the official press release."
Whether or not this drone drew more people to the Space Centre, it opens up an even larger issue.
For years, UFOs posted to YouTube have been under close scrutiny by skeptics and believers. The big problem has been the ease by which certain software has made it possible to create phony UFOs that look extraordinarily real. And now, a new wrinkle is thrown into the mix: Do it yourself kits and materials easily purchased at the local hardware or consumer electronics store that allows anyone to build their own, remote-controlled, maneuvering drone.
More and more videos are showing up, portraying alien-looking craft created not just by the clever manipulation of a few computer buttons -- now they're being built incorporating good old fashioned techniques in model-making.
When will it become obvious that we've entered a new, more difficult phase of sifting through the mountain of UFO videos in search of that one, credible piece of visual evidence that might be the smoking gun believers have been seeking for decades?
It's too soon to tell.
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