Morristown UFO? Hoaxers Tell Their Story

Article written: 2 Apr , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by



If you follow UFO sightings at all (and even if you don’t) you probably heard about the Morristown, New Jersey UFO’s from earlier this year. Reports of the sightings in January 2009 were covered extensively in newspapers around the country, on CNN, several national talk radio shows, and even was featured in the History Channel’s new show, UFO Hunters. Well, yesterday two New Jersey residents Joe Rudy and Chris Russo revealed something big: its was all a hoax. The two created the entire five-night spectacle by tying flares to helium balloons. Everyone should read their account over at Skeptics.com (and the Bad Astronomer beat me to the punch by posting about it before I could, so read his take on it, too.) Why did they do this? “We set out on a mission to help people think rationally and question the credibility of so-called UFO “professionals,” write Rudy and Russo, “We delivered what every perfect UFO case has: great video and pictures, “credible” eyewitnesses (doctors and pilots), and professional investigators convinced that something amazing was witnessed. Does this bring into question the validity of every other UFO case? We believe it does.”

The article provides links to videos of how they created the hoax, and provides all the extensive media reaction. Most of the media includes quotes from “experts” including a pilot who saw UFO lights. But the two “hoaxers” call into question the validity of so-called UFO investigators and shows like the History Channel’s UFO Hunters, as well as eye-witness accounts even from so-called experts. They make some great points in their article: “This begs an important question: are UFO investigators simply charlatans looking to make a quick buck off human gullibility, or are they alarmists using bad science to back up their biased opinions that extraterrestrial life is routinely visiting our planet? Either way, are these people deserving of their own shows on major cable networks? If a respected UFO investigator can be easily manipulated and dead wrong on one UFO case, is it possible he’s wrong on most (or all) of them? Do the networks buy into this nonsense, or are they in it for the ratings? How can a television network that has pretensions of providing honest and factual programming be taken seriously when the topic of one of their top rated shows deals with chasing flares and fishing line?”

Check it out.



32 Responses

  1. Thomas says

    So… turns out that this major UFO sighting was a hoax.

    Is anyone surprised? Seriously?

    Yeah and about the History Channel, if they aren’t showing something about aliens, they’re showing something about how we’re all going to die in 2012, or they’re going on about Nostradamus’ garbage anyway. I used to like that channel… for the educational content… now I would have a hard time believing it over the SciFi channel.

  2. Zibit says

    History Channel is not based on facts. That changed long ago. Its based on ratings just like all TV is.

    TV is not reality. Not even close.

  3. Mr. Greenjeans says

    “‘…are UFO investigators simply charlatans looking to make a quick buck off human gullibility, or are they alarmists using bad science to back up their biased opinions that extraterrestrial life is routinely visiting our planet?'”
    Who cares. If someone wants to believe something, they should have the freedom to do so, as long as it isn’t harming anyone. What is the alternative…to tell people what to believe? Sorry, I’ll chose the “live in a free society, even if there are people with stupid ideas” option.

    “‘Either way, are these people deserving of their own shows on major cable networks?'”
    At least in a free market economy, the answer is yes. If there is no demand, then there is no program. Obviously, there is demand. Again, who cares, ultimately. The last time I checked, we all have the freedom to hit the “off” button or change the channel…OR better yet, simply forgo cable altogether!

    “‘If a respected UFO investigator can be easily manipulated and dead wrong on one UFO case, is it possible he’s wrong on most (or all) of them? Do the networks buy into this nonsense, or are they in it for the ratings? How can a television network that has pretensions of providing honest and factual programming be taken seriously when the topic of one of their top rated shows deals with chasing flares and fishing line?’”
    Again, who cares. I would imagine that most people who choose to THINK will do their homework and verify the facts. The scientific method is freely available to anyone willing to take the time to use it.

  4. ND says

    Mr. Greenjeans,

    And people are free to critique others who are peddling in falsehoods deliberately. Granted there are those who genuinely believe in UFOs and those that try to make money off of it.

    Openly critiquing such things as UFO sightings teaches about human fallibility and encourages thinking.

    Things get dangerous when dealing with the topic of UFOs is replaced with vaccines.

  5. jillr says

    It’s easy to say let people believe what they want – but what do you do when the majority think something very wrong and they try to influence you? Are you strong enough to fight the tide of ignorance?

    People are entitled to INFORMED opinions. Ignorance will destroy us.

  6. Joe says

    Let me see if I get this right. If some fool takes pictures of a building being imploded; presents it to the public and claims that terrorists did it; and people get excited, Is that supposed to mean that there are no terrorists? (I’ve never really actually seen one in person), Does that mean that 9-11 was a hoax? Using their “math”; it means exactly that. Also, using their formula; the earth is flat. I’ve never actually seen the curvature of the earth. Pics I’ve seen could very possibly be hoaxes. Anyone could have made those round picturres of the earth. I mean really; if the earth was round we would fall off. I’ve never actually seen gravity either. That is just some tripe made up to confuse the masses. Everyone knows that if the earth were really round we would fall off!!
    I didn’t erally mean to insult the readers of this post. Just trying to think inside of the same box the Balloon hoaxers are in.

    Joe

  7. Aqua says

    ROTFL!

    Of course, the FAA is probably not entirely happy with their shennanigans. OR local fire department officials.

    Where I live in Californicator, a hoax like that might cause a major forest fire. … THEN the hoaxers might wish a UFO would come to the rescue!

  8. Ted the Plumber says

    The Japanese sent thousands of balloons at the USA in World War 2 with bombs. This was just before Kenneth Arnold’s famous sighting in June of 1947 that started the modern UFO flap, but I wonder how many people saw the Japanese balloons are wondered what they were?

  9. Warlock says

    All this proves is that two morons wanted to fool people into seeing something unusual which they did report. The intention as I understand it was to see if people would report UFO’s well hello strange areial phenomenon are unidentified objects all they proved was that people saw strange objects in the night sky. Regaurdlesas of who put them there I think that only adds validity that people have been observing strange objects since the begining of time oh unless the two morons were responsible for all those too!

  10. Ming says

    So if I use fake weights to hoax people into believing that I dead lifted 400 lbs., it means no one else has really dead lifted 400 lbs. ?
    Duplicating a perceived effect does not prove anything substantial.

  11. ND says

    Warlock,

    Regardless of the dangers in the stunt these guys pulled, it shows that a lot of UFO sightings are taken to be ET in nature even though they are indistinguishable from mundane things like man made lights or nature playing tricks on you. The issue is how people come to conclude that strange sightings are actually ET intelligence based vague sightings.

    Now if you say a mile wide saucer floating over a city just floating there without any use of thrusters, like in Independence Day, then that’s a little different.

  12. killerstringz_1 says

    I Have It On Tape That The Hoaxers Claims Are Hoaxed….lets Think About This, They Say They Hoaxed It, And Show A Video As Such, Is That A Hoax As Well…To Grab There Fleeting Moments Of Fame? Question, Can A Video Be Made To Hoax An Event? Apparently So! Where Does It Leave The Supposed Hoaxer, I Cant Be The Only One To See A Problem Here “oh, I Lied By The Way, But You Have To Believe Me Now, I Wouldn’t Lie Now.. No You Have To Believe Me, I’m A Liar. Lmfao Roflpmp! Another Danger Is The Crying Wolf Scenario.
    Is This Disinformation?
    Disinformation is false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. It is synonymous with and sometimes called Black propaganda. It may include the distribution of forged documents, manuscripts, and photographs, or spreading malicious rumors and fabricated intelligence. Seems to be. as i said at the beginning of my post.(I Have It On Tape That The Hoaxers Claims Are Hoaxed) I’ll Wait Until Next April First To Give The Tape To The Public.

  13. C. Webster Rose says

    What surprises me is the number of people that believed they were looking at a UFO. To me, the History Channel has their UFO show because their market studies tell them that there are enough people interested in the subject that if they can make a saleable product that will draw advertiser’s then they will make the show.
    The same thing can be said with Bigfoot, Hogzilla, Monster this Monster that.
    Anyone of base intellect can tell what might be plausable and what is complete nonsence. Now if Nation Geographic were to produce a show of said subject I would have a higher degree of interest just because of the credabitity of N.G. itself.
    What we all must do in this age of computerized research is to do just that. But don’t forget that this is still considered , Entertainment.

    C. Webster Rose

  14. star grazer says

    Ted the Plumber Says-The Japanese sent 9000 balloons with explosives towards North America to try and start forest fires->99% failed to reach North America, but 1 balloon landed in Oregon, and I believe 5 persons investigated this fallin object and were all killed by the detonation of the explosives when they accidentally touched the trigger. There were some people who saw these in the air, but the US government asked the newspapers to say nothing, so Japan figured the experiment was a failure. Japan was very aware of the Jet Stream toward North America.
    About 100 did reach North America from Canada to Mexico all the way inland to the Rockies , and except for the only casualties in Oregon, did not do any damage. The US government did fear the balloons may contain germ warfare devices, but fortunately, Japan did not do this. All the balloons were made and pasted with paper products, quite a feat considering the products used.

  15. skeptic says

    Do you not realize that these guys are not saying that UFO’s dont exist… If there is something in the sky that you are unable to personally identify, yup, thats a UFO… Ive seen plenty

    What these guys are showing is that when the public hears the term “UFO” or sees something unusual in the sky, rather than assuming the mundane explanation, people instead assume aliens. People seem to forget that there are thousands of possible explanations that would have to be discredited before one can even begin to think it could be extraterrestrials.

    When a so-called expert immediately concludes a phenomena is alien space craft without first ruling out all other possible explanations, then yes, it calls into question the credulity of the rest of their research.

    Oh, and “JOE”… you said you have never seen the curvature of the Earth?… ever seen the horizon? that’s because of the curvature of the earth… other wise youd be able to see Britain from New York..

  16. Layman says

    When UFO’s comes on the History Channel- off goes History- Next thing you know they will be reporting that aliens helped George Washington cross the Delaware- no way he could have moved that many men by himself, not in those fragile boats!
    I too am afraid that a lot of unknowing people believe what they say, in fact I know that they do. I have a general rule- I don’t watch pseudo science programs. My friends say that I take the fun out of movies and television by pointing out the inaccuracies and false science.
    All the same It sure would be nice if some real aliens showed up! I just hope that someone will believe that they are real without dissecting them first.

  17. star grazer says

    I am far more interested in the History channel when they show what humans created and what advanced technology they had thousands of years ago, then was lost or destroyed during the dark ages. Humans are very resourceful creating things like the
    great pyamids, Greek fire, very advanced military weapons and running water thousands of years ago. Humans do not need ‘aliens’ to create these wonders-it was during the dark ages the churchs kept the populous ignorant and the churchs kept the secrets of past technologies. Unfortunately, this is happening in some areas of the world today.

  18. solrey says

    Independent of the UFO issue, what these stupid kids did was potentially dangerous. With the dense population and air traffic in that area, erratically floating balloons with flares at night could cause all kinds of problems. I hope they face some consequences for being so irresponsible in that regard.

    As for the UFO issue. All this proves is that there is an explanation for this one event, and this event alone. Many things that were unidentified are explained, but a small amount remain unexplained.
    Dr. Edgar Mitchell, Apollo Astronaut, is pretty vocal about humans not being alone in the universe.
    I was an aviation professional, and I’ve seen some things that I couldn’t explain, doesn’t mean it was of alien origin, but if we have anything that can move with the speed and agility like some of what I’ve seen, then there’s a lot the authorities are not telling us. That’s not a conspiratorial comment, it’s just a known fact that governments have secret R&D programs.

    Anyways, there is way stranger stuff in the universe than a couple of teenagers lofting flares into the sky. 😉

  19. formulaterp says

    Atrueoriginall Says:

    “Looks like the two boys might be going to jail – hopefully”

    Just because the two young men made fools of UFO believers and proponents like yourself, is no reason to wish for them to go to jail.

    They will be charged with disorderly conduct and sentenced to perform community service. As if they haven’t already provided the community with valuable service.

  20. alan says

    This story is funny.
    I worked with a guy back in 1991 who was from Maryland. He told me back then, His friend worked in a flower shop and brought home a tank of helium and big party balloons. They tied 30 minute highway flares to cluster of balloons with fuses on the flares and let them go. He said there was a lite fog so the glow was erie. The next day they seen UFO reports in the news paper.

    I think we are not alone, but I’m not 100% sure that anyone has visited us.

  21. Feenixx says

    Atrueoriginall Says:
    “Looks like the two boys might be going to jail – hopefully”

    not at all – they are acing a small fine.

    I find the claims they (and the authors of some articles) make – about gullability and people being fooled – quite exaggerated. Many people looked with with binoculars and spotted the flares. The only people actually saying it was space aliens were kids. Not even the MUFON representative (who was hiding behind sunglasses at all times) was prepared to “authentivate” the sightings.

    Feenixx (who works in the Visual Effects trade) says: The entertainment value was high, the production budget was quite low, and everybody had fun.

  22. aspaceyguy says

    While I do agree the premise of exposing the characters who milk the public for a mere buck peddling intrigue and mystery, but I think the dis-info game of negating the ‘ufo’ presence is getting very old.

    For the record my father who was a fighter pilot in the RCAF chased a bonafide UFO in 1955. Many reports exist that ARE legit and most recently Canada has followed Britain and Belgium in releasing their Government UFO records to the public domain. In the Canadian example there are many years of reports including close to a thousand cases. These are not even the classified military ones that exist. The Canadian disclosure is interesting in that it also includes the analysis of many of the reports. Certainly more mature and sober and far from the tv garbage and the low level media versions.

  23. Lluis says

    The proven existence of false bank notes do not disqualify bank notes nor the monetary system.

    UFOs exist as they are Unidentified Flying Objects … and there are objects in the air that are not identified at the moment of sight.

    Theories explaining UFOs or particular UFO experiences may be simply right or wrong … only the passage of time is telling and will tell.

    As per believing … there are kind of intuitions, not certainties that someday will prove right or wrong … so beliefs are difficult (if not impossible) to discuss … meanwhile let’s enjoy life.

  24. RickE says

    Exactly. More than a load of nonsense it is a colossal stinking heap of codswollop.

    There are no UFO ‘experts’ but there is a spate of self-aggrandizing greedy fools who like to hear themselves yak on tv. And they ll have books to sell; that’s why they are on tv at all.

    If you watch any of the UFO documentaries on the Space or Discovery Channels you will notice the annoying pattern inherent in all of them. They talk and talk and talk and they don’t say anything. For the whole hour. It’s a circular narrative that proffers no answers.
    It is not meant to. There are none.

    They offer up no clear video or photographic evidence either (there isn’t any because it’s all fake) but are happy to run
    these bogus fuzzy images ad nauseum
    while yammering on with phrases that
    that are more a series of inane questions than
    a cogent narative. They all end the same way too – Did the people of that little village really see a craft from Proxima Centauri? No one knows.

    Great. Thanks for wasting my time Eddy.

    Yet sadly there is no shortage of
    folks who hang on every word of this crap and seemingly can’t get enough of such garbage. They represent the real problem
    not the producers of these idiotic lies.

    Are we alone?
    Let’s hope so.

    As a comedian once said –
    “No aliens have been here because they all warn each other,

    ‘Stay away from that planet,
    those people are idiots!’ “

  25. Member
    John in Missouri says

    You know, I can’t help but feel a little disgusted by the antics of these two NJ residents. They are as bad as the UFOlogists who are the Fox Mulders of the world.

    For the record, I DO NOT believe all the claptrap that UFO mania has spread about concerning UFOs visiting this planet, or about people who claim they have been abducted by aliens for nefarious studies. Nevertheless, what these two arrogant jerks did was just plain wrong. Faking data, any kind of data makes the whole business of data gathering, even legitimate data gathering (such as Mars Rover data gathering) suspect. For example: Hey guys, did we ever really go to the Moon? I mean, look at these photos, they are obviously fake!

    Are most UFOlogists snake oil merchants? Probably. Are all UFOs fake? Absolutely not. Should we dismiss someone’s claim that they have seen something peculiar just because it is peculiar? Double damn not!

    What one does when one comes across something that cannot be explained is to simply say, “I don’t understand,” and wait. Understanding will usually come with time.

    If there are aliens out there, then in another two hundred years or so, we’ll know. Meanwhile, all these UFO shows make for highly entertaining television.

    And finally, just because two jerks in New Jersey can and did fake out a community does not mean that all similar incidents are false. There’s simply no way to prove that. And if I can’t put at least some credence to the testimony of doctors, police officers and test pilots, then we might as well stop looking at the stars.

  26. Laughingmybuttoff says

    Hark! I hear the sound of the angry believers, (both the hardcore and the ones who pretend to be rational about it but secretly harbor the knowledge that they “know the truth”…) frantically stamping their feet after being caught out… Kudos to the 2 guys in NJ for showing you how gullible people can be!
    Seriously – no-ones’ saying that because this one was a hoax that they’re ALL hoaxes – but this one very handily exposes the true level of competence of the so called “experts” in this field. So – every time you read an article about a UFO sighting in the future, remember this one…

  27. Brad says

    Typical lame skeptic and hoaxers…this looks nothing like authentic ufo’s or video. I do not pretend to know if ufos are real or not, but this kind of ridiculous prank just serves to make skeptics look like losers. Maybe you should spend more time analyzing more realistic footage than obvious fakes like this. No one who saw this in the sky and has a real brain would ever think this was a ufo, it is clearly flares…

  28. Bruce Blair says

    Since human beings will have colonized the galaxy in the next million years and since a million years is a an eyeblink of time in the history of the galaxy, there can’t be anybody else out there or they would have already colonized it.

  29. Louis says

    What is wrong with people around us???
    Just because they’re extra terrestrials doesn’t mean that they have the most advanced technology and the like. So my point is that some space stations and satellites should have spotted these UFOs and have informed the people down here.
    It’s just getting too awkward thinking we’re the lowest of technology alive in this universe.

  30. A Different Louis says

    A UFO is simply an Unidentified Flying Object, not necessarily an extraterrestrial. Options: extraterrestials
    mistaken natural phenomenon
    experimental aircraft
    weather balloons
    manifestations of spiritual evil
    excetera excetera…

    Some of us are talking as if we’ve already found extraterrestrials! Take a look at the options.

  31. Layman says

    I read in the newspaper today that the Hoaxers were fined $250 each and they must perform community service

Leave a Reply