UFO seen over Smithfield

A screenshot from Amanda Luzzader’s video shows an enlarged view of a shiny, tubular, black v-shaped object flying over Smithfield on Tuesday.

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An unidentified flying object was seen first heading North over Smithfield before shifting South toward Logan and Cutler Reservoir on Tuesday when a science demonstration went rogue.

Amanda Luzzader was dropping her son off at Cedar Ridge Elementary when they saw a giant, black “V” about 100 feet above Sky View High School just before 9 a.m.

“After I dropped my son off and was driving back home I saw it again, but it was higher in the sky and moving toward Logan,” Luzzader said. “I wanted to show my husband, so I pulled over and took a video with my phone.”

After she shared the video with her husband, she posted the video on Facebook to see if anyone else knew what the object could be. The video was shared more than 50 times and viewed about 10,000, but most were as puzzled as Luzzader.

There was speculation it could be a drone, but according to Luzzader’s husband, Chadd VanZanten, “It did not maneuver or change its orientation. It just climbed and drifted.”

Perhaps it was a “V” shaped balloon with an “S” shaped mate, as it was seen just above the high school. There were even jokes about it being alien technology, such as from Janice Marsden, who quipped she didn’t have alien invasion on her 2020 bingo card.

But it turned out the balloon guess was the closest. The UFO did not remain unidentified for long: it was a 50-foot solar bag used to demonstrate that warm air rises.

Bill Chandler, a physics and earth science teacher at Sky View, has been using the bags for years as a density and thermodynamics experiment when they learn about the sun.

“Sometimes we get it really high, and then we bring it all the way back down, but this one, it wasn’t going up much at all,” Chandler said. “It’s an easy concept, but it’s fun to see it in action.”

The experiment usually takes place once an hour for one day each trimester, and usually is fun for students but doesn’t garner a lot of outside attention beyond neighbors who happen to glance up at just the right time.

This year, the bag had been patched multiple times and a new fan hadn’t filled the bag as full — hence the “V” shape. The bag was shortened so the worst of the holes were removed but was still too heavy to rise very far, so its string tether was cut when Chandler was concerned it was weighing it down.

Then it rose to the point the wind picked it up and became the second bag that’s gotten away from Chandler in the years he’s done the demonstration, though the first one was found a few blocks away from North Cache — where he taught at the time.

“I have no idea where it ended up,” Chandler said. “It could be in somebody’s front yard, back yard or I don’t know where it went.”

The flying object became the spectacle of the valley until those following the then-unidentified object’s progress through scopes and binoculars lost track half an hour later. VanZanten followed its progress while on the way to work at Bio-West, Inc.

“If I had to guess I would say it was out over the wetlands and ag fields west of the Schrieber’s cheese plant on the west side of Logan,” he wrote to The Herald Journal. “I’m not super pleased with the environmental implications of this toy (when used untethered) … that really is a great deal of plastic to release into the environment. That’s the equivalent of littering an entire ROLL of 50-gallon garbage bags.”

Chandler, who agreed adding plastic into the environment was not ideal, said he’d be looking into ways to keep better track of the next bag in case it breaks loose.

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