What you are about to read is a series of sightings of strangely
behaving lights and rings of light that traveled through the skies of Gulf
Breeze, Florida, in the early 1990's. Although anomalous red lights have
been occasionally reported throughout the world as UFOs in years past, they
have usually been one-time events involving one or a few witnesses who had
no means of recording the event. Hence these occasional sightings scattered
throughout UFO history cannot compare to the unprecedented series of
sightings between November, 1990 and July, 1992 in Gulf Breeze. During that
time the "Gulf Breeze Research Team" (GBRT) logged about 170 sightings, most
of which involved multiple witnesses and most of which included still
photography with telephoto lenses and/or recording by videocameras. In
several cases a light was observed simultaneously by two separated groups of
people thereby allowing for triangulation. In one case infrared sensitive
film detected a change in the output radiation from a light and in another
case a diffraction grating was used to obtain a spectrum of a Bubba UFO and
also the spectrum of a red road flare. The spectra were found to be
There is no doubt that these sightings did involve some objects
moving through the sky because there were "too many" witnesses, videotapes
and photographs to allow these sightings to be explained away as mere
fabrications by a few people with some skill in photography,
videography, etc. On the other hand, skeptics will argue that these
sightings must have been hoaxes, perhaps by a person or persons unknown to
the witnesses, because (a) True UFOs (flying craft or objects made by Other
Intelligences, i.e., non-manmade flying craft) do not fly through terran
skies and (b) even if there were extraordinary craft flying around they
would not tantalize or antagonize the population by putting on such "silly"
displays as moving red lights that change color, flash white, appear as
rings of light, etc., to simply attract the attention of the local humans.
The most often cited hoax explanation involves a simple light source
suspended by some means that can move through the sky. The simplest such
explanation is that these objects were red road flares hanging from gas bag
balloons. Such devices are ignited while on the ground and then float
upward and drift with the wind. However, in many cases this explanation is
not tenable in view of the available information. Instead, the combination
of dynamic imagery and the comments of witnesses who happened to be standing
near the videocamera form a most unique body of evidence that shows
something truly unusual happened during those years. The collection of
sightings reported below is a very small sample of the most interesting
sightings, including a sighting which was most interesting to me because I
was a witness!
(Note: Ed Walters, made famous by the photos he took during the
1987-1988 flap of sightings in Gulf Breeze, and who has been
accused of faking his photos, was present for many but certainly not all of
the Bubba sightings.)
Although there were, in previous years, a couple of reports of red
lights flying around in the Gulf Breeze area, the first which was multiply
witnessed by the group of people who became known as the Gulf Breeze
Research Team occurred in Pensacola in September, 1989. It was a brief
sighting and was not considered to be very significant at the time. The
next very significant sighting occurred in Gulf Breeze on January 8, 1990.
It has been reported in depth elsewhere on this web site. This sighting
might have been later classified as a Bubba sighting if the sky had been
totally dark so that only the red light on the object was visible. However,
it was backlit by moonlight through the clouds which allowed the witnesses
to see a round, disklike object with the red light in the center.
See "Not Just Another Evening Stroll".
After the January sighting the next one of interest which preceded the Bubba
flap (that began in November, 1990) occurred in April, 1990, as described
(The following is based on information that appeared in the book
"UFOS ARE REAL, HERE'S THE PROOF", Avon, 1997;now out of print. Included
here are illustrations, color photos and technical analyses that have not
been published elsewhere.)
TOO FAST FOR A FLARE
There had been several sightings during the first two weeks of
April, 1990. This caught the interest of a number of Gulf Breeze
citizens who decided to spend some nights simply watching the skies to see
if anything unusual would appear. Something did appear on Wednsday night,
April 18. Several dozen people witnessed the flight of a red UFO light.
The importance of this sighting is that witnesses were at two locations and
therefore the track and speed of the object could be determined by
Most of the witnesses were at the Bay Bridge parking lot at the
south (Gulf Breeze) end of the Pensacola Bay Bridge (see map below). Two of
these people, Brenda Pollak and Paul S. (name confidential), had cameras.
(Note: Brenda was a city councilwoman. In March, 1988, she saw the "Gulf
Breeze UFO" minutes before Ed Walters photographed it with his then-new
stereo "SRS" camera, which is discussed below.) Brenda and Paul were
watching the skies carefully for another appearance of a red UFO that had
been seen several times in the preceding two weeks.
Because of the previous sightings the local TV station had taken an
interest in watching the sky. Mark Curtis, a WEAR TV reporter at the time,
was over a mile south of the Bay Bridge parking lot at Shoreline Park in
case a UFO should happen to be appear in the vicinity of that park. It was
shortly after 9:45 when Mark left the Park and drove onto Shoreline Drive
heading east. Suddenly he saw a bright red light moving straight up in the
sky, at least that's what it appeared to him to be doing. It was directly
ahead of him as he looked along Shoreline Drive, which is straight at that
point (azimuth, 75 degrees; see map). He got out of his car and listened
carefully. He heard nothing as the light continued to climb while getting
brighter. Then he realized it was moving slightly to the right (southward)
as it climbed. He thinks he saw it for at least 2 minutes before it dimmed
out. He described it as a red light as bright as the light on a TV or radio
tower and not flashing.
After it disappeared he continued listening and heard no noise until
suddenly, within a minute after the disappearance, there were three jet
planes circling the area, one clockwise and one counterclockwise and one
making loops. He jumped back into his car and drove to the bridge to find
out if other people had seen it. They had!
At about 9:48 PM someone at bridge site yelled "There it is." All
eyes turned southeast. Cameras started clicking and videocameras rolling.
Bill C. (name confidential) filmed with his video camera for the next 90
seconds. (The video imagery was distorted by the brightness of the object).
A WEAR TV cameraman also got some video with a professional camera (also
distorted by the brightness). Brenda took several photos at times labelled
by the camera as 9:49 and 9:50 PM. She used ISO 1600 (high speed) film and
her camera was mounted on a tripod. She was using a 300 mm lens.
Simultaneously Paul S., using a standard (50 mm focal length) lens, shot 6
pictures from a location close to Brenda. His wider angle shots show
foreground items (bush, light pole) which allow for exact estimates of the
Brenda's pictures show roughly straight, upward slanted line images
with some small "jiggling" evident. The lines are relatively long because
her camera lens was open for 4 seconds. Both Paul's and Brenda's photos
have images with yellow inside a red fringe, indicating that the light
source was red and that it overexposed the film at the centers of the
images. Paul's pictures show tiny, well focused images with minimal smear
indicating that his shutter speed was faster than Brenda's. Paul's pictures
clearly show that the UFO light moved relative to a nearby bush and street
light pole (azimuth 117 degrees from north) as illustrated by his fourth
photo shown below. This has allowed an accurate determination of sighting
lines for his pictures. The photographic evidence analyzed in combination
with measurements at the site show that in Paul's first photo the UFO was at
an azimuth of about 107.8 deg and an elevation of about 5.7 deg, and in his
fourth photo the corresponding angles are 111.5 deg and 7.4 deg. When these
sighting lines are plotted on a map along with Mark Curtis' sighting line
they intersect Curtis' sighting line at distances of about 15,000 ft (2.84
miles) and 13,900 ft (2.63 mi), respectively, from the bridge site (see the
At these distances the altitudes correspond to about 1,470 and 1,800
feet, respectively. These measurements indicate that during the time
between Paul's first and fourth photos the light increased in altitude by
about 330 feet and traveled a horizontal distance of about 1,700 ft. The
actual distance it moved (along the hypotenuse of a triangle created by the
horizontal and vertical components of the motion) was about 1,730 ft and the
angle of climb was about 22 deg. Unfortunately the exact time between the
first and fourth photos is not known, but if we allow half a minute then the
speed was about 58 ft/sec or about 40 mph.
Brenda's third photo (see above) shows the left side of the top of
the bush that is in Paul's fourth photo and hence the direction to the UFO
coincides in direction almost exactly with the 111.5 deg sighting line. The
image in her third photo is a slanted line with the right end higher than
the left and with only a slight jog in it, probably caused by a slight bump
of the tripod during the exposure of the film. (Note that the crooked line
image made by the UFO appears to overlay, that is, to be closer than, the
electric power wires that cross the picture and cross the UFO image.
However, this an artifact of the brightness of the UFO image which "bled
through" the slightly defocused image of the wire. The UFO was much farther
away than the power wires.) The length of the line, ignoring the slight
jog, corresponds to the distance that the light traveled during the exposure
time of the film. By experiment this was determined to be 4 seconds. The
geometry of the situation combined with the total horizontal length of the
UFO image on the film provides a rather accurate estimate of the speed. The
length of the slanted line image obtained during the 4 second exposure, when
projected to a distance 13,900 feet away, indicates that the UFO moved about
223 feet along a 15 degree slant path upward. This slant angle is close to
the 22 deg average climb angle indicated by Paul's photos. Since this
estimated distance was traveled in 4 seconds the speed was about 56 ft/sec
or about 38 mph, which is in reasonable agreement with the speed estimated
from Paul's photos.
These speed calculations are not perfect since exact measurements of
directions, distances and times are not available. However, they show that
the UFO was traveling between 35 and 45 mph, a substantial speed through the
sky, that night. The wind was from the north-northeast at about 5 to 6 mph,
nearly transverse to the path of the UFO and certainly was not fast enough
to account for its speed. Thus it must have been moving under its own
power. It certainly was not a flare tied to a balloon, as some debunkers
Bill C.'s video recorded the immediate impressions of nearby
witnesses. The sound recording on the videotape confirmed that the
witnesses were seeing a red light until, a few seconds before it
disappeared, the light faded and turned white...a characteristic that would
later be associated with "Bubba."
RED "BUBBA" COMES TO GULF BREEZE
There were a few sightings of the red light UFO passing through the
skies of Gulf Breeze in April of 1990 and then...nothing, or almost nothing,
for seven months.
A sudden increase in the sighting rate began on Thursday, Nov. 22
(Thanksgiving), 1990. A retired banker with three other adults and two
children watched, for about 15 minutes, a red ball-like light estimated to
have an angular size 1/2 that of the full moon. It was east of them at a
about a 45 deg elevation. It moved slightly northeast and then remained
stationary. There was no wind and no cloud cover. Occasionally the red
light had two or three circles, with red with white centers, which appeared
below the larger ball. After about 15 minutes the light simply "switched
off." They took three photos with a 35 mm Olympus auto-focus camera. The
photos show the wall and eave of the house, a tree near the house and an
elliptical image of the red light in the sky. The size of the image is
compatible with their estimate of angular size, 1/2 the full moon (1/4 of a
degree). The banker thought that it might have been 10,000 feet high. If
this were so its diameter might have been as large as 40 feet.
The next night, Friday, November 23 the red light appeared again!
At 8:40 PM a doctor who is retired from the Air Force, MUFON investigator
Bruce Morrison, Ed Walters and several others were standing in the Bay
Bridge Park discussing previous sightings when suddenly there was a bright
flash as a white light "turned on" over Gulf Breeze. Within a second the
white light turned brilliant red and then remained motionless in a 6 mile an
hour wind (with higher speed gusts) for about 5 minutes before dimming,
turning white and disappearing. Bruce Morrison would have videotaped it but
his camera battery was discharged. The doctor, a retired AF officer, was
"stunned" to see the red light remain motionless with respect to a fixed
point of reference despite the steady wind. He was sure the light was not
on a helicopter. About 5 minutes after the light disappeared a helicopter
did appear in the sky and it was quickly recognized.
On Sunday, Nov. 25, MUFON members and friends gathered at the Bay
Bridge Park at about 7:30 PM in hopes of seeing the red light again. There
were many people including several policemen. Gradually people began to
leave and by 9:30 there were only a few people standing in a circle talking
when one lady, who was looking northward, said "What's that?" She had seen
the red light appear. Everyone turned. They saw a red light which, over a
period of about 80 seconds, hovered motionless in the sky north of them,
then turned white and blinked out.
Three people with 35 mm cameras and two with video cameras
photographed this object. Bruce Morrison videotaped the light for about 70
seconds. As is usually the case when filming lights at night, the video
imagery was distorted by the brightness. However, it does confirm the
reported color. At about 50 seconds into the videotape the image size and
brightness suddenly decreased. At 60 seconds the witnesses said (recorded
on the video sound track) that the light turned white. By 70 seconds the
light had dimmed to the point where it is no longer visible on the
videotape. During the sighting the sky was clear and there was a 6 mph
Ed was present during this sighting. He had his 35 mm camera with
the 214 mm effective focal length (EFL) lens and a 2X "extender" making a
428 mm EFL lens. He ran to a nearby car and set his camera on it and
started taking pictures. The magnification of the 428 EFL lens was great
enough to produce relatively large images about 1/2 mm across. The first
and second photos show an irregularly shaped red image with orange-yellow
spots within the red area. The irregularity could be a result of shape
distortion caused by slight camera vibration during the 4 second exposure.
The orange-yellow spots could be have been caused by brighter areas on the
object that overexposed the film. The image in the third photo is much
brighter and shows something different: an elongated, overexposed "lumpy"
image with a red halo. The center of image consists of four side-by-side
bright spots arranged in a "lumpy" line (a line of varying thickness), with
varying image brightnesses. The fourth photo is even more surprising.
There are six bright, lumpy yellow lines within a red halo. Again, the red
halo means that the lights were red. There are two "triplets" of lumpy
lines with the center line of each triplet being a nice golden yellow and
the outer lines being overexposed white. There are distinct spacings
between the lumpy lines. The lumps along each line could indicate that the
light which created the line pulsated in brightness as the camera moved
slightly during the exposure. The lumps could also indicate that each line
was made up of several adjacent light sources that were constant in
intensity. Hence this photo shows that there might have been as many as 6
light sources which created the lumpy lines by pulsating in brightness about
4 times as the camera moved vertically and horizontally, or three light
sources that pulsated about 8 times, or six groups of lights arranged in
lines of about 4 each, etc.. Regardless of how the image is interpreted,
the clear separation between the line images means that the UFO was not
simply a point of light, but had structure. The spacing of the two outer
vertical lines, white-to-white- is about 1/2 mm. Combined with the 428 mm
lens the angular size of the object was on the order of (1/2)/428 = 0.0012
radians, which corresponds to 1.2 feet if the UFO had been 1,000 feet away,
2.4 feet at 2,000 feet, etc.
According to one of the witnesses, David Baker, "A group of us,
motivated by an earlier sighting on November 25, 1990, began a weekly 'sky
watch' in the hope of taking additional photos of the UFO. What we saw in
November was beautiful. I had my doubts before I saw it for myself, but now
I know it's true. You have to see to believe." Although the witnesses
didn't know it at the time, this was the beginning of the most concentrated
series of documented sightings in the history of UFO reports. Within a
month the appearance of the UFO was so common that it was given a
nickname, "Bubba." By the time this series of sightings ended a year and a
half later the MUFON investigators would record more than 170 sightings!
RING AROUND THE UFO
By late January the Gulf Breeze witnesses, whom I have called the
"Gulf Breeze Research Team" (GBRT), had already seen the "Bubba light"
UFO passing through the Gulf Breeze skies about a dozen times. Ed had been
present for several, but not all, of these sightings. On Feb. 4, 1991 the
GBRT decided to try a new place, the Naval Live Oaks Reserve on the Santa
Rosa Sound. Ed decided to join the group this night at Live Oaks. Ed
thought that the plan was to meet at 7:30 at a particular entrance to the
park. He was there on time, but no one else was there. The Live Oaks
Reserve is at the top of a bluff, 30 or 40 feet above the water level and
has many trees. Although alone, he decided to look around anyway so he
walked over to the edge of the bluff for a clear view over Santa Rosa Sound.
He was startled to see the red light to the east, over the water. He
immediately went down the stairs to the beach to photograph it. Ed had
brought his famous "SRS" camera ("Self-Referenced Stereo camera), the one
with two Polaroid Model 600 cameras separated by 2 feet, which could provide
a stereo pair of photos that would allow me to calculate by parallax the
distance to any object he photographed. Turning the camera toward the light
he fired off a shot (the left and right camera were operated
simultaneously). He then noticed that the light was moving slowly to the
right (southward) and that there was now a green ring around the red light.
He took another picture (with each camera, simultaneously) and then it
started to fade out.
He couldn't tell if the light itself was fading or if some of the
scattered clouds were getting in the way. At any rate, it disappeared. Ed
was a little shaken by the experience (no doubt remembering what had
happened nearly three years earlier, on May 1, 1988, when he was on the
beach at Shoreline Park...alone, with the SRS. (See THE GULF BREEZE
SIGHTINGS, Morrow, 1990). After several minutes the other MUFON people
arrived. By this time the Polaroid pictures had developed and Ed showed
them what he had seen. They sat and talked for several hours. During that
time Ed took some calibration pictures of distant lights so that the
parallax angle of the cameras could be determined.
Ed told me about the event the next day and in a little over a week
I had the original stereo photos. Later he took some more calibrating
photos. I measured the parallax for lights at known distances in the test
photos to calibrate the cameras. Unfortunately the various test photos
showed slightly different amounts of parallax in the camera indicating that
the cameras were slightly loose in the camera mount or that slight rotations
of the frame were taking place when Ed depressed the camera shutter buttons.
Hence an exact distance to the UFO could not be determined, only a range of
possible distances. Ed had two UFO photo pairs. The first left-right pair
shows an elongated red image which looks as if it was "stretched" slightly
by camera motion. The second photo pair shows a nearly circular red disc
with a touch of orange that is surrounded by an ellipse made up of small,
blobby green dots or "beads" (see above). The parallax shows that it was
between 240 and 350 feet away. At this range of distances the size of the
red disc in the second photo (image is 0.62 mm wide; the camera focal length
is 110 mm; angular size = 0.0056 radian) was about 1.3 to 2 feet in
diameter. Similarly, the major (horizontal) axis of the green ellipse
(image width is 2.88 mm) was about 6.3 to 9.4 feet and the minor (vertical)
axis (image height is 1.39 mm) was about 3 to 4.5 feet high. The ratio of
the minor to major axis is about 1/2 which corresponds to a about a 30
Ed reported that he was looking upward at an angle that he estimated
at 35 degrees. If the green ring were circular and lying in a horizontal
plane, the ellipticity would be simply a result of photographing with an
elevation angle of 30 deg , which is close to Ed's estimate. Hence it is
reasonable to assume that the green ring was horizontal and circular, with a
diameter equal to the width of the major axis (6.3 to 9.4 feet). The red
image is sufficiently off center vertically in the photo that it contacts
the lower part of the green ellipse (it is slightly off center horizontally
as well). If the red light were at exactly the same altitude as the green
ring and if it were centered in the green ring, then its image should appear
centered. The observed "off-centerness" could therefore be evidence that
the red light was actually at a slightly lower altitude than the green ring.
From the first of January through the twelfth of March of 1991 the
GBRT witnessed and recorded fifteen sightings. March 12, 1991, is the date
of an especially noteworthy sighting because for the first time infra-red
photos were taken. The MUFON group had organized a meeting in a church in
Pensacola just north of the Bay Bridge. Ed Walters arrived late. As he was
driving north toward the church he saw a red light in the sky north of him.
It was below the heavy cloud cover. As he continued toward the church he
lost sight of it. When he went into the meeting he mentioned to Gary Watson
that he had seen what he thought was "the" red light. Gary repeated this to
some other people and before long there was a mad dash outside. They saw
nothing. After a few minutes of looking and questioning Ed ("Are you sure
it was the red light?") most of the people reentered the church. However,
Ed and Mary Hufford and Bruce Morrison and a few others stayed outside a bit
Suddenly the UFO appeared again in the sky to the north of them,
over Pensacola. Ed had his 35 mm camera with a 50 mm lens and it was loaded
with infrared sensitive film. This sort of film produces black and white
pictures, like ordinary panchromatic film, but it is sensitive to "near
infrared" radiation that is beyond the color sensitivity range of human
vision. (Infrared film is sensitive to wavelengths of light in the range
400 to 900 nanometers, whereas human beings can only see light within the
wavelength range of about 400 to 680 nanometers. Ed's camera was not set
for an "infared focus," nor did he use a blue rejection filter. Hence his
film recorded "all" of the light that is visible to humans as well as the
near infrared, but the infrared was probably not well focused by the lens.)
Bruce Morrison had his videocamera but decided not to tape the sighting
because nearby street lights and lights around a parking lot were causing
such a glare in his viewfinder (which is a small black and white TV set)
that he couldn't see the red light. Ed quickly got his camera and took five
photographs during which time the object moved upward and to the right
(east) a small amount before disappearing. The wind that evening was out of
the south at 12 mph. There were two cloud layers, one "broken" layer at
2100 feet and another "overcast" at 7500 feet.
According to the witnesses the light started as bright red and then
turned white and seemed to become dimmer than it was when it was red. A
short time after it turned white it simply "turned off." Ed took three
photos while it was red and two photos after it turned white. The first
three photos show a small dot image (0.15-0.2 mm wide) indicating that the
light had a small angular size and was much dimmer than the nearby
streetlights. The fourth and fifth photos have greatly increased UFO image
sizes indicating that the radiation output of the UFO increased considerably
when it turned white and dimmed down.
(Note: (1)The photos were taken at slightly different locations.
(2)Infrared film is basically black and white film, registering the presence
or absence of radiation. Hence the pictures are black and white. (3)At the
time of the first photo several people were standing in front of the Ed and
blocked some of the lower distant lights. (4) Ed turned on the flash
attachment for his camera but in the rush to take the first picture he did
not wait long enough for the flash electronics to charge up. So the first
photo was without flash. The four following photos show the effects of the
flash, i.e., reflections from car light covers, etc.)
Compared with the UFO images in the first three photos, the images
created by nearby streetlights are round discs more than 10 times larger.
(Note: regardless of the type of film or video, the size of the
image of a small light source, such as the light bulb in a distant
streetlight, depends upon the brightness of the bulb and the distance.
Brighter and/or closer lights make bigger images than more distant/dimmer
The surprise, and the really interesting information, is contained
in the last two photos.
Although the witnesses claimed that, to their eyes, the light dimmed
down as it turned white, the images on the film in the last two photos are
much larger and brighter (see above). In other words, the change in the UFO
image size is the opposite of what would be expected from the witness'
descriptions. The UFO image in the 4th photo is about 1.4 mm in diameter,
comparable in size to the images of the nearby streetlights, and the image
in the 5th photo is nearly as large (and higher in the sky).
The increase in image size can be explained by assuming that, when
the light turned white and appeared dimmer to the naked eye, it was actually
emitting far more infrared radiation than it was when it appeared red to the
eye. This is the opposite of what would happen with an incandescent light
source which glows because of its high temperature. Suppose an incandescent
source, such as the filament in a light bulb, were heated just enough to
appear reddish in color. It would not be very bright to the naked eye,
although it would be radiating enough infrared to make an infrared photo of
the filament. Now suppose the temperature of the filament were raised
enough to make the filament appear white. At this higher temperature it
would radiate much more infrared light and it would also appear much
brighter to the naked eye. (This effect of temperature is easily
demonstrated with an incandescent bulb and a dimmer switch.) In other
words, if an incandescent light source were observed to turn color from
reddish to white, then the intensities of both the infrared and visible
light would increase. Hence the observation that the light got dimmer when
it turned from red to white means that the light was not simply an
incandescent light source which changed its temperature (such as a light
bulb on a balloon!).
The distance to the light is unknown. However, it was definitely
below the overcast layer of cloud at 7500 feet, and probably below the
broken layer at 2100. The highest recorded angular elevation of the light
was about 15 deg just before it disappeared. If, at that time, it were at
the altitude of the lower layer then it was about 1 1/2 miles away, and if
it was lower, then it was proportionally closer. At that distance the size
of the small images in the first three photos corresponds to a diameter of
about 24 feet. There is no doubt that some of the image size was a result
of the brightness of the light, so 24 feet is an overestimate. If it were
closer than 1 1/2 miles then the calculated size would be proportionally
smaller (e.g., 8 feet if 1/2 miles away). The larger images in photos 4
and 5 are assumed not to correspond to much a much larger object, but rather
to the large increase in infrared radiation from the UFO. Hence the size of
the light source may reasonably be estimated to have been in the range of
several feet to perhaps 20 feet or so.
INTERLUDE AND SPECULATION
After a 2 1/2 week "break," during which the weather was generally
so bad that the GBRT didn't attempt to maintain a nightly watch, the
sightings resumed on April 2. On this night at 7:35 PM, ten witnesses again
saw the red/white light UFO. Initially it was red. It pulsated several
times, turned white, disappeared for ten seconds, reappeared red and then
disappeared again over a total time of about 3 minutes. Four nights later,
fourteen witnesses saw the red light appear and remain red for about a
minute before it flashed a brilliant white light. They saw two bright UEO's
(Unidentified Ejected Objects) fly off in opposite directions and disappear.
Then the red/white light itself dimmed and disappeared.
Ever since the first red light sightings the GBRT had been seriously
considering the possibility that at least some of these lights might
actually be some sort of unusual, soundless pyrotechnic display (quiet
"fireworks" or flares modified to change color) or some other type of light
(flashlight, candle) supported in some way (balloon, kite, model aircraft,
etc.) at a moderate altitude (hundreds to thousands of feet), as part of a
bizarre attempt to perpetrate a hoax. This hypothesis was considered in
spite of the large number of events recorded, which raised questions such
as, would a hoaxer repeat his effort so many times without announcing the
hoax to expose the gullibility and credulousness of the witnesses, or would
a hoaxer take so many chances on getting caught (maybe he/she wanted to be
caught?), or would a hoaxer endanger the safety of Gulf Breeze (and
Pensacola) residents so many times by flying burning material (flares,
fireworks) or heavy material (flashlights and batteries) over the area?
(Many of these objects clearly passed over residential areas. A flare
falling on a roof or in a collection of combustible material could start a
fire.) Not only was there a potential danger to residents of the ground,
there was also a potential danger to aircaft passing over Gulf Breeze at
relatively low altitude on a flight track to land at th Pensacola airport
abou 5 miles away.
The credibility of the hoax hypothesis was stretched beyond its
normal range of applicability by the questions raised in the preceeding
paragraph. It was stretched to it limit by the technical difficulties in
creating devices that could do the things which had been observed many
times: initially appear as if "turned on" when at a high altitude (not seen
to drift upward from the ground or from a low altitude), hover stationary in
a wind, or move crosswind or against the wind or faster than the wind,
change color, flash brilliantly at a high rate and eject other lights
(UEOs). If these sightings were hoaxes, then they involved devices far
more complicated than simple "candle balloons" or "flare balloons" drifting
in the wind.
And if these observations weren't sufficient to stretch the hoax
hypothesis to the breaking point, the next two sightings were.
RED UFO AND BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL
As the days and weeks passed by with continual sightings the GBRT
members were continually improving their equipment for making measurements
during the sightings. New devices for determining locations of the objects
were about to be tested "under fire."
On April 9, at 8:10 PM, the GBRT was just setting up equipment at
Shoreline Park when the red light was spotted to the east. Fortunately two
new devices, "elemuth scopes," for determining sighting directions had just
been completed by Ed Walters and set up for the skywatch. Each "elemuth
scope" is simply a 1/2 inch diameter, several foot long pipe that is pivot-
mounted on a 5 ft wooden stand in such a way that it can be pointed toward a
UFO at some time during a sighting. It remains in that position until the
after the sighting when the _ele_vation (upward tilt) and azi_muth_
(direction with respect to north) can be measured with an inclinometer or
carpenters level and a compass. If two elemuth scopes separated by a
sizeable distance, say 100 feet, are each pointed at a UFO at the same time
then later, after the sighting is over, the azimuths and elevations given by
the scopes can be used in to determine the position of the UFO by
triangulation. The elemuth scopes were put to good use April 9.
The UFO light was initially red. Then it turned white, then red
again, and finally it disappeared after about 3 minutes. Measurements of
the sighting directions of the two elemuth scopes, which were at two
separated two locations at Shoreline Park, provided information for a
triangulation that placed the light at a distance between 5 and 9 miles
east-northeast of the GBRT.
At the same time, three people driving eastward on Highway 98 saw
the UFO, but at a much closer range. They were going to the K-Mart. After
they stopped in the parking lot, they stood near the car to watch it for a
minute or so. They were puzzled by what they saw because it seemed so
large, yet they couldn't identify it. Then they went into the K-Mart. The
next day they decided they should report their sighting to the GBRT. They
had heard about the sky watchers because several stories about UFO sightings
and the nightly skywatches at Shoreline Park had been reported in the Gulf
Breeze Sentinel, a local weekly newspaper. They went to Shoreline Park
where they met some of the GBRT members skywatching, as usual. They were
hesitant to discuss their sighting at first, but when they realized that
they wouldn't be ridiculed for reporting such an unbelievable event, they
told the story of their sighting.
Subsequently an on-site investigation of their sighting from the K-
Mart parking lot was carried out and they filled out a MUFON sighting form.
When the approximate sighting line from their location was plotted along
with the approximate sighting line of the GBRT, the two sighting lines
crossed at a location NE of the K-Mart witnesses, in close agreement with
the location estimated from the elemuth scope measurements. (The exact
location to within a mile could not be determined by triangulation because
the estimated directions were not perfect in either case, with the
K-Mart witnesses' estimated direction being the most uncertain. The map
shows about 3 miles from the K-Mart witnesses to the sighting line
intersection but it could have been much less than that, or even more than
that.) The elemuth scope angular elevation indicated that the altitude was
about 1 mile.
According to their description the UFO appeared as an
elliptically shaped object with an overall red glow and with a ring of
individual red lights around the bottom. Witness Bob Simpson stated that
the object would take "four fingers" (at arm's length) to cover it. This
is very likely an exaggeration unless the object was only a few hundred feet
away, but it does indicate that the UFO had a rather large angular size and
therefore the witnesses were able to see clearly the overall shape and some
other details of the surface of its surface. The sketch below is from their
MUFON sighting form and below that are newspaper accounts of the sighting.
Bob Simpson attempted to discern a typical airframe, but he
could see nothing recognizable. Instead, he saw what appeared to be a rib-
like structure or indentations which were made visible by the light from the
object. He said it resembled the "skin of a blimp." An estimate based on
their description of the angular size and the triangulated distance suggests
that the object was well over 10 feet wide...hardly a size compatible with
fireworks on a balloon.
The witnesses told the investigators that after they had watched the
UFO for a minute or so they stopped watching and went into the K-Mart. The
investigators decided that, although one would expect them to want to watch
a UFO as long as possible, there was, nevertheless, some "logic" to their
decision. After all, they wouldn't want to miss the next K-Mart Blue Light Special!
THAT'S THE HISTORY OF IT
The next sighting, on April 17th at 8:42 PM, also stressed the
fireworks/flare hypothesis. The light was initially bright red, but then
began a five second series of extremely bright, irregular white flashes,
after which it emitted a UEO and turned red again. It was seen by
members of the GBRT and videotaped by Bruce Morrison from the pier at
Shoreline Park. Witnesses who were not members of the GBRT were at two
other locations in Gulf Breeze (see map below). Combining their sighting
directions with that of Bruce Morrison allowed for the position of the UFO
to be determined by triangulation. The UFO was about 5 miles away. Below
is a map of the sighting and also one of the newspaper accounts.
During the sighting GBRT member Gary Watson was describing to
someone else what the red light would do. He was standing close enough to
the videocamera for his comments to be recorded: "It's going to flash real
white...that's the history of it." A second after he completed his
"prediction" it did just that in a spectacular display. The video recording
shows that the light rapidly flashed bright and dim continuously for about
five seconds, and occasionally it went completely off, at a rate almost
faster than the camera could record (i.e., major brightness changes in less
than 1/30 of a second). Many of the flashes were so bright that they
created large glares in the videocamera. Similar glares can be produced by
bright light beams, like headlights, at distances of a few hundred feet.
However, the triangulation showed that this UFO was no headlight: it was
five miles away! Moreover, headlights (and similar incandescent and arc-
type lamps) can't change intensity as rapidly as this object did. I don't
know of any light source that could be suspended in the air in some
reasonably simple way (e.g., by a balloon, kite, blimp, helicopter) which
could create such a great brilliance at a distance of 5 miles and also
oscillate in intensity in an essentially random manner at the amplitude
variation and rate that is recorded on the video.
RINGS AROUND THE UFO?
Sightings continued through the spring and into the summer.
Videotapes and photographs of most of these sightings were obtained. One
photo is of particular interest. It was taken by Monsanto chemist Arthur
Hufford on June 21, 1991. He took three photos. The third is reproduced
here. His report of the sighting was published in the Gulf Breeze Sentinel
newspaper on September 25 along with the report I wrote on the September 16,
1991 sighting. This sighting was reported in the Gulf Breeze Sentinel on
September 19, 1991 (see below).
CHANDELIER IN THE SKY
On September 5 at 8:10 PM eleven members of the GBRT saw a UFO which
appeared as an arc or partial ellipse of lights. This was the first time
that they had seen more than one light specifically associated with a single
UFO. Initially they saw, to the west of their viewing position at the Bay
Bridge parking lot, only three yellowish-white lights. They thought these
were lights on an airplane. Then the number of lights increased to six and
these were in a slightly arched horizontal line. Then the left end of the
the line began to increase in elevation relative to the right end and, after
reaching about a 45 degree tilt, the lights changed to a yellowish-orange
color and faded out. The next night 19 members of the GBRT had the first
sighting of a complete the ring of lights (ROL).
Several witnesses had their perspectives on UFO reality drastically
changed when, at 8:46 PM, a complete ring of yellowish white lights appeared
in the eastern sky. The orientation of the ROL changed as it traveled
northward through the sky at an elevation of 35 to 45 deg. During the
several minute observation the witnesses saw at various times a nearly
circular array of lights, an elliptical array or a line of lights,
indicating that the orientation of the UFO changed during the sighting.
The sighting was videotaped by Bruce Morrison. Comments by his
wife, Ann, were recorded as she described what she saw through her 10 x 50
binoculars. She said she could see that something to the left of and to the
right of the ring was blocking out the stars as the ROL moved along. In
other words, there was a large, opaque object (craft) moving with the ROL
which was larger than the ROL. It could not be seen directly because of the
As it moved northward the left (north) end started to tilt upward
and, over a period of about a minute the ring turned over. This movement or
maneuver was obvious to the witnesses who were recorded describing the
rotation. Furthermore this rotation is clearly evident on the videotape
made by Bruce Morrison. It continued to rotate slowly clockwise while
moving northward until it finally faded out.
Several of the witnesses tried to count the lights, estimating
between 8 and 16. Arthur Hufford obtained a series of photos showing the
ring in various tilt orientations. From the size of the image I estimate
that it would have been about 1 foot wide if it were 1,000 ft away, 2 ft. at
2,000 ft, etc. Unfortunately there was no triangulation so the actual
distance cannot be determined.
On the 8th of September the ROL appeared again, this time at at 8:20
PM. A good photograph was taken by Vicki Lyons with camera using a 430 mm
focal length lens. This photo clearly shows 8 or 9 dots of light in an
elliptical ring. Again there was a dark structure attached to the ROL which
blocked out stars as it moved northward. (The fuzziness or "structure"
around each light "dot" image is an artifact of the photographic process.)
I had kept track of the red/white "Bubba" light sightings ever since
they had begun many months earlier but I had not planned to travel to Gulf
Breeze to see them for myself. However, after several sightings of the ROL
I decided that something about the phenomenon had changed and now I did want
to see for myself. The sightings were occurring at such a high rate that I
thought that there was a good chance that I might see something if I could
stay there several days. Therefore I began making plans to travel to Gulf
Breeze the next weekend.
While I planned, the sightings continued. On the 11th of September, at
8:28 PM, the single light type of UFO appeared again. A brilliant white
light with a green tint around its outer edge appeared and 20 seconds later
turned red. The red light ejected several smaller red lights. Through
binoculars there appeared to be a solid structure behind the red light. The
light moved toward the southwest from its initial position in the southeast.
As it increased its speed it ejected another white object which split into
two objects. It faded out as it traveled. The next night at 8:08 PM a
bright red light appeared to the south for 4 seconds. Ten minutes later
there was a bright light to the east for about four seconds. Two nights
later (Sept. 14), at 8:25 PM, two bright lights appeared, one over the
other. The lower light was a bit brighter and more yellowish than the
upper, whiter, one. The most unusual thing about these lights is that the
upper one seemed to swing left and right over the lower light. Over the
next several minutes this pair of lights continually increased in angular
elevation from initially 45 to 90 deg, passing over the witnesses.
The swinging of the lights certainly gives the impression of two
lights tied one above the other on a string or rope beneath a moving support
(balloon). Yet, the motions seem to contradict this hypothesis: the
swinging is irregular and the lower light doesn't seem to move left and
right along with the upper light, whereas one would expected both lights to
be swinging if they were suspended from the string. Another contradiction
with the balloon hypothesis is that the lights were initially seen in the
northeast (59 deg azimuth) and they moved westward into the wind (listed as
220 deg - i.e., wind out of the southwest - at 5 knots).
At about 2 PM, Sunday afternoon, September 15, two UFOs were seen in
the Gulf Breeze area by a number of witnesses. The larger seemed to have
appendages which circled the object like "tree branches." (This description
reminds one of the blue/green spikes sticking outward from the object
photographed by Chip Holsten in Gulf Breeze on the night of January 8,
1990.) It also seemed to be layered, like plates on top of one-another.
The smaller object was shaped like a bow tie and was 1/10 the size of the
larger. Both objects rotated clockwise while moving vertically up and down.
The larger one rapidly moved away and disappeared, while the smaller one
moved in a easterly direction until it was no longer visible over the trees.
I arrived in Gulf Breeze on Sunday evening and immediately went to
the Bay Bridge "viewing spot." There were about 80 people already there,
but no UFO appeared that night. I interviewed witnesses to previous
sightings. The next night, Sept. 16, at 8:33 PM the ROL returned again and
this time I saw it. I knew I was looking at an "impossibility," yet I did
not make a quick phone call to the men in the white van with the white lab
coats and butterfly nets to come and take to the "funny farm" because there
were 30 other members of the GBRT watching with me from the Bay Bridge
The night was mild with moisture in the air forming a haze that
extended up several thousand feet at least. We were a mile or two northwest
of the main city of Gulf Breeze. Streetlights and stadium lights in the
city lit up the haze to a high altitude. Because of this skyglow I could
not see the stars with the naked eye even looking straight upward. I could
see the brighter stars overhead with binoculars, but even the binoculars
could not "cut through" the haze over the city itself. I had set up a table
on which there was a taperecorder and a radio tuned to the official time
station, WWV. There was a camera and a sensitive microphone. The
microphone was intended to detect be any engine noise associated with
"Bubba", noise that might give away a small motorized blimp as a support
for the light. The picture below shows I was prepared for most anything.
Nancy Sharp was the first to notice something odd in the sky.
Looking eastward into the skyglow she saw a dark form, "the dark outline of
the craft as it crossed the sky low over Gulf Breeze." She pointed this
dark form out to nearby witnesses just before it faded and disappeared.
Several minutes later she realized that it had returned and she pointed,
saying, "Look at that!" Moments later the lights appeared where the dark
form had been. Someone shouted, "Look! There it is," and "It's a ring!" I
heard the shout. I didn't know where to look but I happened to be facing
Gulf Breeze at the time so I simply elevated my eyes to begin a sky search
for the object.
Fortunately I happened to be facing the correct direction. I
immediately observed a bright white spot of light that had appeared in the
glow of the hazy sky over Gulf Breeze where there had been no lights before.
Like most of the other people there I was dressed for skywatching and so I
was wearing my "binocular necklace." I immediately raised the 8 x 50
binoculars to my eyes and the bright spot was resolved into an ellipse of 8
lights which were very clear against the sky glow. They were "incandescent
white," that is white with a very slightly yellowish tinge, like a crystal
chandelier, just suspended in the sky...except there are no crystal
chandeliers in the sky! The ring was visible for 70 seconds, during which
time it first remained stationary and then seemed to move toward us against
the prevailing breeze.
I had with me a "big ear" microphone device which uses a parabolic
dish to increase the sensitivity of the microphone to the point where one
can hear a whisper at several tens of feet to perhaps as much as a hundred
feet. Unfortunately the sensitivity was reduced by noise from the
surrounding area and by an A.C. hum picked up from nearby power wires.
Nevertheless, I pointed the parabolic mike at the UFO and heard no engine
sound. That suggested to me that, at the very least, it wasn't some
structure supported by a model plane or a motorized blimp.
I did not notice any opaque structure associated with the lights.
Had there been such a structure between me and the volume of illuminated air
that formed the skyglow, the structure would have appeared as a small, dark
area very close to the lights. Immediately after the lights "turned off" I
carefully searched the sky where they had been but I could see no evidence
of any craft or of any other type of object even though I was sure I could
have seen any structure, even a 1 foot balloon, silhouetted against the
skyglow. If there had been some object there I would not have been able to
see it if it had been _beyond_ the volume of illuminated air that made the
skyglow. But to be beyond the skyglow would have meant that the object was
perhaps several miles away and therefore very large (ten feet or more).
Two telephoto photographs were taken by Bland Pugh using about 4
second exposure times and high speed film. They show the lights in the
ring. The first photo confirms that the object was initially stationary.
The second photo was taken after the object started to move.
Bruce Morrison's video also shows the ring of white lights.
However, his camera was not on a tripod so it cannot be used to determine
the object motion. Shown below is a sketch by one of the witnesses.
A triangulation was done at the time using the elemuth scopes which
I have mentioned earlier. The triangulation indicated that the UFO was at
least several thousand feet away and could have been more than a mile away,
although an exact distance could not be determined because the two sighting
devices were not pointed at the UFO at the same time in the sighting (one
was pointed at the initial location of the UFO and the other at the final
location; since the UFO had moved through several degrees of arc the
accuracy of the triangulation was diminished). The camera and videotape
data show that the angular size of the ring was about 1.3 milliradians,
corresponding about 5 ft if it were 4,000 feet away, 10 feet at 8,000 feet,
The Gulf Breeze Sentinel published a report on the sighting along
with the report on the June sighting that was photographed by Arthur
Hufford, mentioned above.
Another report on the September, 16th sighting, along with mention
of sightings on September 8 (photo discussed above), September 14 and
September 20, was published by the newspaper on September 26.
NOV 5 PUTS IT ALL TOGETHER
There were five more sightings in September (a total of 15 in
September!), 13 in October and sightings on November 2,3 and 4. Then,
November 5th, one of the most intriguing of all the sightings began at 7:12
PM when a single light appeared at 178 deg azimuth, 15 deg elevation.
Several of GBRT members were at the Bay Bridge parking lot with a camera
loaded with high speed ISO 3200 black and white film and with a 430 mm lens.
The sighting began when Bland Pugh pointed out to the other witnesses a red
light that was silhouetted against the bright skyglow to their southeast
over Gulf Breeze. One witness, who had earlier expressed skepticism about
these sightings, said he could see "something black around it" through his
binoculars. Bland Pugh said, "I could see a definite curved structural
shape above the blazing red light at its bottom." Others report that around
the red light there was a black area about twice the apparent angular size
of the red light. The red area seemed to be dynamic, swirling or rotating.
The wind was from the north. During the 5 minute sighting the UFO appeared
to move into the wind toward the witnesses. A minute or so after the
sighting began Bruce and Ann Morrison arrived at the site, set up the video
camera and began recording the sighting.
A dark form above or around the large red light was not all they saw.
The videotape recorded statements by the witnesses who also reported several
small white lights above the larger red light. About a minute into the
sighting it appeared to be two red lights close together, pulsing. Then one
The changes in shape of the light(s) were most clearly recorded in the
series of photos. Shortly after the light appeared Patty Weatherford began
taking photos at the rate of one every five seconds or so using the camera
with the 430 mm lens. She took 14 pictures and then there was a minute or
so pause as Ann Morrison took over the operation of the camera so that Patty
could look through binoculars. Ann took three photos. Then Patty then took
5 more photos, for a total of 22 pictures. Shown below are tracings of all
of the images. (The images are somewhat fuzzier around the edges than the
The images changed from shot to shot indicating that the
illumination, distance and/or orientation of the object changed. The first
six of these black and white photos have small, elliptical images about 0.2
mm wide. Combined with the focal length (430 mm) this image size
corresponds to an object size of about 1/2 ft for each assumed 1,000 feet of
distance. Unfortunately there was no triangulation during this sighting, so
the actual distance was unknown. Had the object been two miles away, for
example, the width of the image would correspond to about 5 ft; if at 4
miles the width would have been about 10 ft (divide the image size in mm by
430 and multiply by the assumed distance). The image size increased
noticeably from shot to shot indicating that either the object moved closer
or the size of the illuminated area on the object increased (or both).
The first 8 photos show only an elliptical image that increased in
size. The ninth shot, however, shows a surprising change. The ellipse is
still there, but now, above the ellipse, which the witnesses said was red,
are five other small lights which the witnesses said were white. These
smaller lights formed an arc. Above the arc was a single white light. This
arrangement of lights is repeated in the tenth photo. The image changed
radically again since the eleventh photo shows three small blobs or "dots"
indicating three separate but adjacent light sources. The twelth has an
image that is almost an equilateral triangle. The thirteenth and fourteenth
photos have double dot images and photo 15 has an image that is similar to
those in shots 9 and 10.
Up to this point the light intensity had been nearly constant. Then
the object emitted a series of rapid bursts of white light as "Bubba" had
done numerous times in the past. This flashing shows up on the videotape
and Ann caught one burst on film in photo 16. The image of the white light
burst is a circular blob nearly a millimeter in diameter with an extremely
overexposed central portion. (Note: the fine line "structure" of the image
in the sketch is not present in the photo image; it is merely an attempt to
indicate the relative brightness of areas of the image by the concentration
of lines in the sketch. The image is overexposed at the center and the
exposure level decreases moving away from the center.) Since the size of a
photographic image increases with object brightness, the extreme growth in
image size indicates a very large increase in brightness. In photo 17 the
image is once again a small ellipse, and in the succeeding photos the image
remains small with some shape changes.
This series of photos is remarkable because of the distinct change in
image shape and because the images in photos 9, 10 and 15 resemble the
arrangement of the lights in Ed Walters' fourteenth photo (see the
comparison below). The comparison with the bottom ellipse is obvious. The
lights across the main body are also clearly similar, as is the top light.
A newspaper report on the sighting is shown below.
A UFO IS A UFO AND A FLARE IS A FLARE
Ever since the first red UFO had been seen in April, 1990, skeptics had
said, "Oh, its just a road flare on a balloon or some similar simple hoax
device." Although I knew that the flare-on-a-balloon idea was too
simplistic for reasons I have outlined (e.g., the speeds of some of the
lights, the color changes, the bright white flashes), I had nevertheless
considered the possibility that red flares, along with some other
pyrotechnic devices to provide white light, might have been attached to some
motorized supporting mechanism like a model plane or a model blimp (NOT
simple, NOT cheap!). Sophisticated pyrotechnics, such as one has for Fourth
of July fireworks displays, could, perhaps, explain the brilliance of the
lights, the color change from red to white and sometimes back again (but not
the very rapid, brilliant but noiseless flashing) and the lights which
appeared to fall out of, or be ejected from, the initial light. In other
words, the question became this: were these red/white lights "merely" very
sophisticated (and expensive!) pyrotechnic displays being transported by
rather expensive motorized devices? Or were they something else?
In order to answer at least the question of whether or not the red
lights were red flares I purchased several "star" diffraction gratings to be
used inside cameras. The diffraction grating acts like a prism in the sense
that it "splits" light into its component colors, thereby creating what is
called a spectrum. To be specific, the spectrum shows the amplitude
(brightness) of the light at each color (wavelength or frequency). Although
I provided the gratings to the GBRT in the late spring of 1991 and they used
the gratings during some of the sightings in the summer of 1991 (see Arthur
Hufford's reference, in the article on his June 20 sighting, to the use of a
grating), it wasn't until February 7, 1992 that a measurable spectrum of a
red UFO was obtained. (During the previous sightings the light was too
dim.) On that night a typical bubba light suddenly appeared and was seen
moving through the sky. Ed Walters, who was in the company of numerous
other GBRT members, photographed the light while it was red using his 35 mm
camera in which he had previously installed one of the diffraction gratings.
Within an hour after the bubba sighting Ed had obtained a road flare and
ignited it at a distance of about a mile (across the Santa Rosa Sound, the
body of water just south of Gulf Breeze) while another member of the GBRT
then photographed it using the same camera, grating and film. The flare was
estimated to have been about the same distance away as the UFO.
Both the bubba light sighting and the flare test were videotaped and
the recorded comments of the observers near the camera are quite definite:
the red of the flare seemed to be different than the red hue of the UFO.
These visual impressions were borne out after the film was
developed and analyzed. The spectra show that both the UFO and the flare
had a predominance of red light (otherwise they wouldn't look red), but the
UFO had much more blue and less green than the flare. Furthermore, whereas
the flare spectrum showed the presence of "spectral lines" characteristic of
a burning material (hot gases), the UFO spectrum has no spectral lines,
which suggest that the UFO light did not come from a pyrotechnic display.
Color film was used and so the spectrum appears in color.
At the right in each of the pictures above is the direct image of
the photographed light. In each case one sees a roundish image which has a
whitish center and a red "fringe" or annulus around the center. The center
is overexposed (all the color layers of the film were exposed to some degree
making an overall white color). Light diffused sideways in the film and
decreased in intensity. In so doing it reached an intensity low enough for
proper color registration by the film. Hence the annular region shows the
proper color, red.
The (first order) diffraction pattern appears at the far left of
each photo where there is a thick horizontal red line. To the right of that
is a faint horizontal green line and further to the right (closer to the
central image at the right side) is a blue line. The relative brightnesses
of these lines represent the relative amounts of radiation at wavelengths
starting with red (long wavelength) at the far left and becoming blue (short
wavelength)as one moves toward the right.
(For the expert: the grating is a film with horizontal and vertical
"rulings," available from Edmunds Scientific, that produces horizontal and
vertical diffraction patterns about a central, unshifted image. The image
at the right side is the central image. The diffraction pattern at the left
is one of four, first order diffraction patterns that occur at right angles
to one another and are centered on the central image. By using a HeNe laser
I determined that the grating constant is about 207 lines per millimeter or
around 5,300 lines per inch. The grating was inserted into the camera
where the telephoto lens adjoins the camera body.)
Looking at the lower image one sees "bumps" in the red portion of
the image which indicate increased radiation at spectral lines
characteristic of burning red flare material, namely the strontium compound
SrOH, according to Henry Webster who wrote "Visible Spectra of Standard Navy
Colored Flares" which was published in Propellants, Explosives,Pyrotechnics
Vol 10, pg 1, 1985. In that paper he also presents data for red highway
flares, such as used by Ed Walters in this test. Moving to the right from
the thick red line one sees faint green, due to barium impurities in the
pyrotechnic, and then an even fainter blue, which is another, weaker
spectral radiation of strontium.
The upper spectrum is that of the Bubba light UFO. In this case the
red image is "smooth." That is there are no bumps suggestive of spectral
line radiation characteristic of burning material. Moving to the right one
sees very faint green and somewhat brighter blue. Hence the Bubba spectrum
differs from the flare spectrum primarily in that there is more blue than
green in the Bubba spectrum and the reverse in the flare spectrum. This is
made more obvious in the illustration below which was produced by Jeffrey
Sainio from excellent prints of the these images. The graphs below show the
relative brightnesses of the red, green and blue for the Bubba and flare
images (taken from the 1992 MUFON Symposium Proceedings).
One may conclude from this analysis that, at the very least, Bubba
was not a road flare. Moreover, the lack of spectral lines within the red
portion of the spectrum suggests that whatever made the red Bubba light, it
was not a burning material. Furthermore, the absence of yellow between the
red and green and the gap between the green and blue suggests that the Bubba
light was not simply an incandescent source with a red filter (such a
filter would allow some yellow, green and blue to pass through).
UFOS ON TV
There had been well over 100 sightings since November, 1990, when,
on the night of March 14, 1992, several groups of witnesses at various
locations in Gulf Breeze saw at least six of these Bubba lights, with three
at one time in sufficiently close proximity to give the impression of being
geometrically arrayed. During this sighting witnesses flashed bright
spotlights at the UFO lights and in at least one case there was a rather
convincing response in the form of a similar set of flashes by one of the
UFOs. (This was documented on videotape.) Ten days later Jim Moore, a
reporter from KHOU TV (Houston, TX; a CBS affiliate), and a film crew
arrived in Gulf Breeze to do a story on the Gulf Breeze sightings. (This
was not the first time a TV crew had visited the "sighting grounds" to see
for themselves. TV crews had filmed these red lights in January, May and
October, 1991.) Jim, a typically skeptical reporter, joined the GBRT at
Shoreline Park after interviewing Ed Walters and others about previous
sightings. One may imagine that Jim did not expect to see anything he
couldn't explain. But he did see something. And he couldn't explain it.
One red UFO light appeared and then a second one appeared next to
the first. Then they started to rotate about one another. They were
videotaped doing this for about 2.5 minutes, during which time there was no
evidence of swinging back and forth, as one might expect for lights (flares
or whatever) hanging beneath a supporting body. The rotation rate was slow,
75 sec/cycle (0.013 Hz), as determined by the KHOU TV camera and confirmed
by Bruce Morrison's videotape made at the same time. The pair of lights
disappeared and about 30 seconds later a single red light appeared moving
through the sky, pulsating slowly as it went. A million candlepower
spotlight was flashed on and off several times at the light. The red light
then turned white and its own pulsation rate suddenly changed from slow to
fast, seemingly in response to the flashing of the spotlight. Then it, too,
disappeared. Jim Moore and the TV crew left Gulf Breeze a day or so later
convinced that they had seen something truly unusual. On Bruce Morrison's
video the maximum spacing between the rotating lights was 5 millimeters on a
14 inch TV monitor. Unfortunately there was no triangulation so the
distance to the lights, and the spacing between them, cannot be calculated.
There was another sighting that was similar to the previous one on
April 3. Bruce Morrison again videotaped the rotating lights and again the
maximum spacing between the images was about 5 mm on a 14 inch monitor. The
two lights were rotating about one another a bit more slowly this time, at a
rate of about 90 sec/cycle (0.011 Hz). Again there was no indication of
swinging back and forth as if they were hanging beneath a supporting
structure. This time the lights were viewed from two directions and a
triangulation was accomplished. The lights were estimated to have been 3 to
4 miles (about 16,000 to 21,000 ft) from the video camera. After
calibration of the video camera and TV monitor to determine the angle
between the two lights I estimated that the image spacing corresponds to an
actual separation of 10 to 13 ft. Hence if these two lights were attached
to a single, rotating object it had a substantial size.
Having "seen the light" on March 24, Jim Moore's interest was
heightened considerably and his TV station arranged to have him return to
Gulf Breeze during the week of May 18, 1992. This was at the same time that
the Intruders TV miniseries (about a psychiatrist who discovered some of his
patients were abductees) was shown nationally on CBS. This time he had a
special black and white (B&W) video camera with a long focal length lens as
well as the standard color camera.
As fate would have it, Jim arrived in Gulf Breeze during the most
concentrated period of the Bubba light sightings. There had already been
sightings on the nights of May 1, 2, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 17 when, on May 18,
his film crew set up on the pier at Shoreline Park to wait along with the
GBRT in the hope that the red light would appear once again. It wasn't a
While the KHOU TV crew was at Shoreline Park, other members of the
GBRT, including Monsanto chemist Ray Pollock, were at the Bay Bridge site
somewhat over a mile north of Shoreline Park. The witnesses at the Bay
Bridge were the first to see the light appear at 10:28 PM. The red light
was first seen at 75 degrees azimuth and somewhat less than 26 degrees
elevation (the exact value was not recorded). According to Pollock's
measurements, over the next 4 minutes it moved southwestward to 97 degrees
azimuth and 26 degrees elevation where it disappeared (indicated by the
number 4 on the map of the UFO track; see the map below). Soon after the
light appeared a witness using binoculars saw some whitish, filmy material
fall from the red light. Later it seemed to turn white and divide and then
return to red so that there were two red lights side by side. Subsequently
one light disappeared and finally the second light disappeared. Several
photos taken by Mr. Pollock, using a 35 mm camera with a 500 mm telephoto
lens and ISO 1600 film, near the end of the sighting produced pictures
showing two, side-by-side tiny, very slightly smeared red images.
The KHOU TV crew and GBRT members at Shoreline Park did not
immediately see the UFO. However, about 45 seconds after Pollack saw it,
they saw it and began filming with the special black and white (B&W) camera
(see location 1 on the map). They continued filming with this camera until
the end of the sighting, about 3 min., 16 sec. later. About 1 3/4 minutes
after starting the B&W video, or about 2.5 minutes after Pollack first saw
it, one member of the TV crew started filming with a high quality color TV
camera with a telephoto zoom lens (location 3 on the map). Thus, during the
last 1.5 minutes of the 4 minute sighting both cameras were running
simultaneously. (Although the cameras weren't electronically synchronized,
voices were picked up simultaneously by both cameras and this made it
possible to synchronize them.) The color camera shows that during the last
1.5 minutes the lights were red.
The TV crew did not keep track of the azimuth and elevation during
the sighting. However, for 15 seconds at the beginning of the color camera
video segment (2.5 minutes into the sighting) and before he zoomed in for a
close-up view, the cameraman showed a wide field of view picture which
recorded nearby streetlights at Shoreline Park. The azimuths of the
streetlights were subsequently measured from the location of the video
camera. Using these azimuths and the video imagery I have determined that
the azimuth of the bubba light was about 51 degrees and the elevation was
about 15 degrees (at about point 3 on the map below). Unfortunately no one
at Shoreline Park measured the ending azimuth immediately after the
sighting. However, on the day afterward MUFON investigator Arthur Hufford
interviewed several of the Shoreline Park witnesses and they agreed that the
lights moved from right to the left from their point of view and that the
final azimuth was about 42 degrees. This information combined with analysis
of the video and photos has been used to estimate the travel path of the
lights, as illustrated by the thick line in the map below.
The B&W videotape of the sighting begins with a single, large,
bright unfocused nearly round image with some dim, filmy material falling
downward, confirming the testimony of a Bay Bridge observer that it dropped
some glowing material. (The video also shows very faint glowing material
falling downward a couple of more times during the sighting, but, unlike a
typical flare or pyrotechnic device, material was not falling continuously.)
During the next 30 seconds the crew focused the camera and the image shrinks
to one or two and occasionally as many as three bright "blobs" of light
(roundish, overexposed images) that merge together at their edges (they
don't completely overlap; if they did the image would appear as one round
"blob"). The fact that the image consists of multiple "blobs" rather than a
single featureless "blob" indicates that there were at least three sources
of light so close together that the camera could not completely resolve,
i.e., separate, them. The video did not record any smoke or vapor at any
time during the sighting.
About one minute into the B&W video a second bright light appears at
the left of the original one. At this time the lights turned white,
according to Jim Moore, and then a few seconds later returned to red. (The
color change does not show up on the B&W camera, of course. Unfortunately
the color TV camera was not yet operating at this time.) There is no rapid
leftward motion of the image of the second light, as there would have been
had it separated or "fissioned" from the first and then moved to the left.
The second light just appears in one frame as if it were turned on by a
switch. It immediately drops some faint, glowing material and then fades in
and out several times over the next second, brightens and then the image
begins a steady clockwise rotation about the image of the first light. In
the first 5 1/2 seconds after its appearance the image of the second light
moves to the right and merges with the top part of the image of the first
light. Then it dims and moves farther to the right and down in a rapid
continuous circular motion until, after another 5 1/2 sec, it is at the
right side of the first light. It continues the rotation, but more slowly,
so that about 17 seconds later it is below and to the right at about the 5
o'clock position relative to the first light. By this time it is also very
dim. Then, over the next minute it rotates counterclockwise (upward) slowly
so that at about 2.5 minutes into the B&W video (3 1/4 minutes into the
sighting) it is level with the first light. It continues to move upward
slightly to a location at about the 2:30 o'clock position. Several seconds
later the original light, now on the left, ejects a single dim light that
falls straight downward. I have estimated that the ejection velocity was
about 2.85 m/sec (see the graph below of the distance downward as a function
of time; note that the equation, apart from a magnification scale factor of
9.85, is the standard vt + (1/2)gt^2 Newtonian equation for free fall with
an initial velocity, v, where t is time measured from the video frame that
first shows the falling object and g is 9.8 m/sec).
The discovery that an initial velocity was needed to make the video
data fit the free-fall equation was not expected. It is important because
it shows that the falling object or light was not simply released from the
main body, as with falling slag from a flare, but was actually ejected
Over the next 7 seconds the original light dims and brightens
randomly and then fades out. About 20 seconds after that the second light
(formerly on the right of the original light) ejects a dim light straight
down, with an ejection velocity of about 4 m/sec and then it begins to dim
and brighten randomly. Finally it, too, fades and disappears, about 3
minutes and 16 seconds after the video began. The objects which were
ejected downward were too dim to be recorded by the color TV camera. That
camera does, however, show the left hand (original) light fading and going
out and then the right hand one fading and going out.
A detailed analysis of the video, photographic and testimonial
information has been published under the title "Analysis and Discussion of
the May 18, 1992 UFO Sighting in Gulf Breeze, Florida" in the Journal of
Scientific Exploration (Volume 7, Number 3,page 241; Fall, 1993). The
analysis indicates that the UFO(s) traveled along a substantially straight
line for almost three miles, heading southwestward at a velocity which
initially was somewhat greater than 50 mph but which decreased to about 20
mph just before the two lights disappeared. The direction was into the
prevailing gentle breeze. The track ended at a point roughly 1.3 miles from
the Bay Bridge parking lot and about 1.6 miles from Shoreline Park. The
initial altitude was estimated at about 4,300 feet and the final altitude at
about 3,400 feet. The spacing of the lights was estimated at about 9 feet,
which is comparable to the spacing estimated during the April 3 sighting
DISCUSSION OF THE MAY 18 SIGHTING
So, what were these lights? It would be reassuring to say that
they were simply red flares hanging beneath a balloon or some other
suspension, especially since glowing material was occasionally observed to
fall from the lights, and glowing material does fall, continuously, from
burning pyrotechnic displays in the air. However, a balloon could not have
traveled at speeds from 20 to 50 mph against the prevailing breeze. A
motorized craft would be needed to travel at the estimated speeds. If
flares or more complex pyrotechnic displays were simply hung beneath a craft
that then transported them at these speeds through the atmosphere the flares
would swing back and forth in an erratic fashion. Yet the motion of these
lights, so far as can be determined by both TV cameras, was smooth and
steady. Flares rigidly attached to a small, stabilized aerodynamic platform
might not sway back and forth, but, to minimize air drag effects, the rigid
supporting member would be short enough so that light from the flares could
reflect from the platform. (An event in which flares lit up the "supporting
body" was recorded on video in August, 1992, when a military plane was
"caught in the act" of creating a UFO sighting, intentionally or
unintentionally, by ejecting numerous flares as it flew along. The flares
were bright enough and close enough to the aircraft to make it visible to a
long range telescope and low light level TV system that was being used
during the skywatch that night.) Of course, flares attached to a large
aerodynamic platform such as a helicopter could do "almost anything,"
although the rotation of one light about the other might be difficult to
explain even for flares rigidly attached to a helicopter. However, at their
closest the lights were about 1.3 miles from the GBRT at the Bay Bridge and
about 1.6 miles from the KHOU TV crew at Shoreline Park. Yet no sound was
heard. Nor was there any evidence of running lights which are required on
all aircraft. In fact, there was no indication of any support for the
lights, although clearly any hoax devices would have required support that
would have been detected under the circumstances.
Bubba's "Parting Shots"
The May 18th sighting was not the last. Sightings occurred on May 19,
20, 21, 22, 23 24 and 25. FUJI TV videotaped the sighting of the 19th and
Jim Moore and his TV crew videotaped several sightings after May 18th. The
UFO "took a break" for a week and reappeared on the nights of June 1, 6, 9,
10, 11, 12 and 13. Then the sighting rate dropped, with appearances
occurring on June 22, June 26, July 2 and July 4. The appearance on July 4
was just before the Pensacola fireworks display! The red light appeared
high in the sky over the Pensacola Bay.
The last appearance of the unprecedented series of sightings occurred
on July 13. The red light appeared, pulsated in intensity, flashed white,
seemed to shrink and turn red-orange and then faded out. It was a typical 3
minute appearance of the UFO which had been seen so many times by so many
people that it had been given a nickname, "Bubba."
The July 13 sighting brought the number recorded by the GBRT as first
hand sightings (i.e., reported by GBRT members) to about 170. (There were
other UFO sightings, including daytime sightings, reported to MUFON during
this time period, but they have not been included here.) These had occurred
on about 150 nights (some nights had more than one sighting) between
November 25, 1990 and July 13, 1992. The months with the largest numbers of
sightings were September, 1991 (15 nights) and May, 1992 (16 nights). As I
have pointed out, most of these sightings involved lights moving through the
sky at varying speeds, flashing, changing color, dropping bright objects,
appearing as red ellipses or rings of light. If these were all hoaxes then
they consitute what must have been the most massive, expensive and dangerous
hoaxes in history. (What would happen if a flare fell on a house? What
would happen if an airplane, in its landing pattern for Pensacola airport
only about 5 miles away, ran into one of these things?) And for what? And
if so, why has no evidence of hoaxing turned up by now? The only
alternative to the massive hoax hypothesis is that they were a manifestation
of the UFO phenomenon which had been recorded numerous times during the
previous years in Gulf Breeze and which continues even to this day!
SOCIOLOGICAL COMMENT FROM THE YEAR 2000
It is now ten years since the unprecedented Bubba flap in Gulf
Breeze began. Over the year and a half of intense activity there were
literally hundreds of witnesses, including many from outside the Gulf Breeze
area and even many from other countries. These sightings are among the only
(or perhaps the only) sightings to have occurred while "on the air." That
is to say, several times radio stations were interviewing members of the
GBRT at the very time that a sighting was occurring. Also, Bubba appeared
several times on national TV including an ABC TV special, KHOU TV, a
Japanese TV special and several others.
Yet, despite the continual occurrence of sightings and the continual
reporting in the local papers and even national and international interest,
there was scant local official or scientific recognition of the continuing
phenomenon. I was told that the local police occasionally stopped at a
skywatch and saw the light. Yet, they never said anything publicly and
wouldn't talk privately about it. An attempt was made to interest the local
high school science teacher, to no avail. Occasionally after sightings
there were observations of planes or helicopters flying through the area,
and several times Air Force officers, probably from Eglin Air Force Base (40
miles east of Gulf Breeze), joined the skywatchers. Yet, there was no
official admission of interest by the military. And, most surprising of
all, the number of skywatchers was numbered ONLY in the tens to (once) over
a hundred, whereas, if the whole of Gulf Breeze had taken in interest the
number could have been hundreds or thousands each night. The raises the
question, why the "rampant non-interest" in a phenomenon that was so
intriguing? Did everyone assume that it was all a hoax and the skywatchers
were gullible, "believers," or perhaps just idiots? Or were there, in fact,
many other witnesses who, for reasons of their own (e.g., fear of ridicule,
conflict with personal belief patterns), chose to keep silent? I suspect it
was the latter.
Although the sightings are now long over, the excitement of
generated by these events can still be felt by one who reads through the
numerous records of the sightings, records compiled by the
GBRT, and especially by one who listens to the hours of videotape made
during the sightings. Hearing the various witnesses commenting and yelling
to each other brings back a freshness that goes far beyond the "stale
history" of most UFO sightings.
I can still think back to my own sighting and my initial reactions.
But to completely relive it I turn on the video machine and watch and listen
and return once again to the excitement of yesteryear, when, on September
16, 1991 at precisely 1 Hour, 33 Minutes Coordinated Universal Time
(Universal...does that mean THEY use it too?) or 8:33 PM Central Daylight
Man: LOOK, THERE IT IS!
Woman: THERE IT IS
Man: THERE IT IS
Man: MY GOD! IT'S A RING.
Another Man: OH, WOW! LOOK AT THAT RING!
Woman: ITS A RING! OH, GOD, YES!!
Me: Yup. It's got points..I see points of light!
Ed Walters: HEY! SOMEBODY SIGHT THROUGH THAT OTHER INSTRUMENT DOWN THERE!
(This is a reference to the elemuth scope.)
Other voices, noise, etc., seconds go by....
Me: I'm counting the points of light..1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8..
Ed Walters: LOOK AT THAT RING! IS THAT BEAUTIFUL?
Man: IT'S MOVING OVERHEAD!
Another Man: COMING OVER!!
Other voices, noise
Me: (60 seconds into the sighting) We're seeing the ring at an angular
altitude of about 45 degrees or maybe a little bit less.
(the ring fades out)
Woman: YES! WE DID IT!!!
Me: (Thinking about it afterward) No, we didn't do it. THEY did.
But who are they? And why did they do it?
Will we ever know?