A constant feature of UFO reports is that the objects appear to demonstrate technological characteristics and flight capabilities that are just around the corner from familiar, contemporary technologies. They also often seem to borrow from popular fiction.
In the late 1890s people saw airships a few years ahead of Zeppelin’s creations (cf. Jules Vernes’ Robur the Conqueror (1886)); in the late 1940s people saw flying saucers zipping and wobbling overhead a few years ahead of planned saucer designs (cf. any number of SF comics of the ’30s, even of the late 19thC, though also bear in mind that aviators were successfully flying disc-winged craft in the 1930s); and in the last decade or two witnesses have described low flying, slow moving, silent craft the ‘size of a football field’ (approx 360ft) (cf. CE3K (1978), Independence Day (1996) etc).
So this press release from military aircraft manufacturer Northrop Grumman is quite interesting in this respect:
June 14, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A new hybrid airship weapons system, just larger than the length of a football field, will take to the skies in just 18 months to provide an unblinking, persistent eye for more than three weeks at a time to aid U.S. Army troops in Afghanistan… [NG] has been awarded a $517 million (£350.6 million) agreement to develop up to three Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) systems for the U.S. Army… LEMV will sustain altitudes of 20,000 feet for a three-week period, and it will operate within national and international airspace.
(Note the cloudburst in the accompanying photo – you can almost hear the heavenly choirs singing their exaltations).
NG are adapting technology developed by a British company, Hybrid Air Vehicles, ‘one of the world’s leading exponents of ‘Lighter-Than-Air’ (LTA) technology’. If HAV are just one of the companies developing LTA dirigibles, have other manufacturers got their own giant floaters up into the air? Have they been flown, or test flown, over the US by one of the other Armed Forces or intelligence agencies? Could these account for some of the spectacularly-sized, slow moving, humming craft described by witnesses over the past decade?
As usual, the answer is an emphatic shrug, though perhaps with a slight nod of the head if you’re looking from the right angle.
You can see images and video of a prototype Hybrid Air Vehicle in flight at the HAV site here, though it’s hard to make out the size of the craft – it doesn’t look like you could play football on it yet, maybe ping pong.