In my opinion, the op video shows typical Sky Lanterns. For anyone unfamiliar with these, I'll add a few comments. Because these toys are likely to
be mistaken for something inexplicable, I decided to examine their behaviour first hand. I bought some.
The first point to bear in mind is that they are no longer restricted to the 'Chinese' community. Sky lanterns are becoming popular across Europe
and probably the USA to celebrate events such as weddings, carnivals, etc. They are sold in thousands on eBay. You can buy them in packs of 500 if you
can afford it! Forget about the Far East connection, Sky Lanterns are here and they're here to stay.
Buying Sky Lanterns
The second thing to remember is that they are lighter than air machines. So once aloft, they are effectively weightless and drift within the air
currents. If there's a brisk wind at a certain height, these paper balls will move at the same speed. And that can be fast, very fast. And they can
accelerate from a snail's pace to rocket-like speed instantly - just like many reported UFOs. There are no aerodynamics to consider. They move as
part of the air mass. It's simply down to wind speed and direction.
Many of the videos showing these objects show a flickering glow. This is the flaming wick of course, which provides the heat and lift. Contrary to
popular misconception, this flame is rather more than a 'candle'. It is in fact a pretty fierce flaming roll of waxed paper, several inches across.
When fully burning, the flame is at least 2 feet in height and pretty scary! Hot molten wax drips from this contraption all the time, so there's some
hazard to the launcher as well as the neighborhood. Never launch these in a built up area. You really need open countryside. Here's some snaps of
our launching phase (12 October 2008).
After ignition, you have to hold the lantern at arms length until the paper envelope has enough hot air to become weightless. When you release the
lantern, it may rise pretty fast, or it may drift sideways, depending on air conditions. Releasing too early can be hazardous because the lateral
speed may exceed the lift and make nearby buildings, trees, etc. vulnerable to fire. That's very scary indeed!
Sky Lanterns will burn for around 20 minutes on full throttle, during which time they can rise to a considerable height. They're most commonly seen
at a few hundred feet altitude, but under favourable conditions can reach thousands of feet. They may be released by several people at a time, so may
rise up in small groups. Released in close proximity to each other, they can behave as a single entity. After all, each one is subject to identical
forces, so they move as if connected. This explains why a group of three may appear to be a triangular 'craft'. Released by only one or two people,
they tend to move in a long string, following the prevailing air stream. When the fuel begins to run out, they lose altitude and then drop out of the
The course followed is determined entirely by the local atmosphere. If there are air streams moving in different directions at different heights, the
lanterns may suddenly alter course very rapidly indeed. They move as would a feather in the wind. Their large size is no barrier to their seemingly
So, that's my take on sky lanterns. You're likely to see more and more videos like this. Until the population as a whole is familiar with them,
misinterpretted UFO sightings are likely to increase. Serious watchers much therefore be very vigilant if they are not to be taken in by a load of hot
[edit on 2-2-2009 by waveguide3]