Prototype Dirigible Causes Another UFO Panic in China

Last week, a remote controlled lighter-than-air craft careened out of control and drifted hundreds of miles across China, causing a widespread UFO scare. The UK’s Daily Star said on the 19th of October:

The remote control prototype finally landed hundreds of miles off target in a paddy field in Hauyan village, Shandong province, eastern China, amid baffled farmers.

“We had many calls along its route from people wondering what it was. Most thought it was a UFO of some sort until it landed and we could identify it,” said a police spokesman.

A spokesman for Datian Aviation said: “We apologise for any inconvenience but the airship is completely harmless. It just flew out of range of the remote control unit.”


If you ask me, China seems to have been seeing an uptick in UFO reports, which I would guess probably guess is selector bias (mine) or is due to greater availability of communication devices.

Nonetheless, who can forget the cool photo from China Daily of a UFO over Hangzhou airport? Hangzhou is about two hours from Shanghai, and the sighting occurred last year — in July, 2010. As described the events:

On Wednesday evening, twinkling lights spotted near the airport caused air traffic controllers to scramble to move air traffic to other locations. The lights were visible to many in the area, but speculation as to the culprit has focused on (mostly) earthly culprits. China Daily News says an unnamed source close to the happening claims the aircraft was tied to military use.

Others believe it may have been a private craft, and want whoever was responsible for its disruptive flight held responsible for revenues lost by airlines.

A picture of the UFO over China was published on that clearly shows an object with red running lights and light that seems to emanate from the bottom of the craft. The light could be attributable to a phenomenon where high-flying craft are still being doused in daylight over an otherwise dark area about an hour after sunset.


This looks, to me, like a shot taken at too slow a shutter speed of a plane with running lights. But I still think it looks cool. Almost as cool as the photo of the remote-controlled airship.

However, whatever I think about the photo, it’s unlikely that the 2010 photo is of a commercial flight, since it reportedly diverted 18 flights and closed the whole airport for almost an hour, from 8:45pm to 9:41pm local time.

The 2010 UFO was probably a private plane. If it was military after all, it’s likely not some bad-ass stealth fighter, but a cargo or observation plane that went off course because of faulty equipment. Here’s what China Daily said about it at the time:

“No conclusion has yet been drawn,” Wang Jian, head of air traffic control with the Zhejiang branch of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying.

Some media have speculated the UFO might be a private aircraft, based on the increasing number of privately-owned aircraft in Zhejiang province.

But Wang said the possibility it was a private plane was “just a guess.”…It was the first time an airport in China has been shut down on such short notice due to a UFO, said a staff member with the CAAC of East China, who declined to be named.

“We should first find out how the owner got the approval to fly the object,” said the staff member, adding “even a fire balloon needs to get the authority’s permission before lifting off.”

The twinkling object could have been a light below the horizon reflecting on an airplane flying very high, given good visibility in the sky, said Zhu Dayi, who works at the Shanghai Observatory, adding such phenomena usually happen around an hour after sunset.

“If the speed of the twinkling object is extremely high, it could be a military aircraft,” he said, “But no conclusion can be drawn now, as the information is limited.”

According to airport staff, it is still not clear which authorities should be held responsible for dereliction of duty – if there were any. The CAAC of East China and the airport divide their areas of responsibilities according to the craft’s altitude.

As to who should pay for losses to the airline companies whose flights were diverted, an industry insider said those costs should be borne by the owner of the unidentified object.


Stories and uploaded videos about the July, 2010 UFO were ubiquitous for a while. Here’s one from ABC News, for instance. However, some YouTube videos — like many uploads about UFOs — are nothing more than video taken of different photos, like this one. Then there’s this one, which claims to be of the same UFO, but doesn’t look like it to me — it looks like a plain flying through slightly cloudy conditions, leaving a contrail.

There was another UFO spotted in October of 2010, which closed Batou airport in Inner Mongolia. Then the UFOs struck again in August of this year in Chongqking (Chungking), which Fox News reported on. This video is just a shot of still images from a Chinese news source about the August sighting, with Google translation. As per usual, decent information is usually pretty disappointing — no little green men, tripods, or city-sized flying saucers.

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