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Experts stumped by video
Falling aircraft, flare, waterspout, tornado ruled out
Officials with Environment Canada and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSBC) say they don't have an explanation for what a couple saw in the early evening skies above their North Tryon home on Boxing Day.
"It's very difficult to say exactly what it is," said Yves Jolicoeur, investigator with the TSBC, based in Gatineau, Que.
Jolicoeur said the Canadian military and Coast Guard were contacted about activities that day, including aircraft flights and search and rescue training operations.
There was nothing happening on Dec. 26 to account for the sighting of a funnel-shaped, spiral phenomenon captured on video by Tony Quigley and his wife Marie Ford-Quigley.
The object was visible for approximately 30 minutes and they captured 10 minutes worth of film.
Jolicoeur saw the entire video Friday. But prior to that, he thought he might have a theory, based on hearing there appeared to be a great deal of black smoke.
"Initially I thought it was some sort of flare fired during military operations," he said.
But that was discarded after he saw the video because flares give off a white flash, something that was missing from the film.
"It's almost like a flashbulb (in a camera) going off."
Jolicoeur checked anyway and there were no exercises held in the area that would involve flares.
Likewise, there were no reports of jets or other aircraft in distress, including those from CFB Greenwood, N.S., so that avenue of inquiry appeared to hit a dead end as well.
However, he didn't rule out unusual light conditions.
For instance, contrails from jets flying overhead can appear darker later in the evening, said Jolicoeur.
Environment Canada meteorologist Herb Thoms said a couple of weather events are extremely unlikely - waterspouts and tornados.
Usually, when those phenomena occur the clouds are "dark, deep and towering". The skies were definitely not threatening above North Tryon on the evening of Dec. 26 and the winds were light.
"It's very unlikely that it's a tornado or waterspout."
There's a possibility smoke could be an explanation, but that's only a guess, said Thoms.
Jet contrails seemed an unlikely bet, he said.
"Most of the contrails I've seen don't look like that. They're much smaller and white."
The mysterious object appeared to form above the clouds and extend to the ground.
I remember seeing something almost identical to what the couple saw near the Confederation Bridge. At that time (during the 70's) what I and other Ottawa residents saw over the Ottawa skies turned out to be a Russian satellite burning on reentry to the earth's atmosphere. It was on a similar angle of descent and heading in a westerly direction.