|Morristown UFO Hoax
Five Lights Attached to Helium Balloons were Released by Joe Rudy and Chris Russo
Morristown UFO hoax, also known as "The Great UFO Hoax of 2009," was
originally thought to be an unidentified aerial event that occurred on
Monday, January 5th, 2009, between 8:15 pm and 9:00 pm. The event was
actually a hoax, meant as a social experiment, as revealed by the
hoaxers in the eSkeptic article "How We Staged the Morristown UFO Hoax."
lights attached to helium balloons were released by Joe Rudy and Chris
Russo and seen in the skies above Morris County, New Jersey.
were concentrated in the towns of Hanover Township, Morristown, Morris
Plains, Madison, and Florham Park. At 8:28 pm, the Hanover Township
police department received the first of seven 9-1-1 calls.
police departments also received numerous phone calls with regard to
the strange lights. Morristown Police Lt. Jim Cullen alerted Morristown
Airport about a possible hazard to airplanes. Airport control tower
workers reported seeing the lights in the sky, but could not determine
what they were.
Hanover Township police also contacted the
Morristown Airport to try and pick up the objects on radar, but they
were unable to pick up anything. Major and local news networks covered
the story, and Internet websites, including the Mutual UFO Network
(MUFON), have posted information about the incident.
1st, 2009, Joe Rudy and Chris Russo came forward with video evidence
proving they were the perpetrators of this hoax, demonstrating how easy
it is to fool the so-called UFO "experts." On April 7th, 2009, Russo and
Rudy pleaded guilty to municipal charges of disorderly conduct and were
sentenced to fines of $250 and 50 hours of community service.
Morristown UFO Hoax
this video, Chris and Joe show the supplies used to construct their
UFOs and try to verify the dates and times to prove they, in fact, set
up the balloons.
On July 18th, 2009,
Chris Russo and Joe Rudy were the guest speakers for the New York City
Skeptics at a public lecture in New York City, describing how they
pulled off their hoax and the reasoning behind why they performed the
On August 5th, 2009, Chris Russo was asked to debate a
MUFON investigator on the existence of UFOs. After both parties
presented their arguments, Russo was awarded the victory in the debate.
Chris Russo and Joe Rudy came forward, there had been many different
explanations for the lights. These included extraterrestrial craft,
supernatural and/or spiritual phenomena, helicopters carrying cargo, a
surveillance blimp, a secret military project, or an elaborate hoax.
Morristown police department had stated the lights were most likely
helium balloons attached to road flares, although witnesses and many
other Morris County residents did not agree with this claim. Reporters
from News 12 NJ contacted Peter Davenport who has been director of the
National UFO Reporting Center since 1994. By telephone he told News12 NJ
that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires aircraft to
have a single red light on the left tip of the wing. He did not believe
it was an aircraft.
In addition to serving as the director of
the National UFO Reporting Center, Davenport has served as the director
of investigations for the Washington Chapter of the Mutual UFO Network.
One source had speculated that the red lights may have been sky lanterns
released during a celebration. No evidence was found to support this
Chris Russo and Joe Rudy built up the media attention by
repeating the hoax over various parts of Morris County on four more
occasions after the January 5th incident. The subsequent hoaxes and
sightings took place on January 26th, January 29th, February 7th, and
In this video, Chris and Joe let go of the flares in the woods. The first part shows their test launch on January 4th, 2009.
largest cluster of lights occurred on February 17th. Nine red lights
were reported to be traveling in formation. Shortly after that sighting,
Capt. Jeff Paul, a spokesman for Morris County Prosecutor Robert A.
Bianchi, said that federal authorities have expressed concern that the
objects might be a threat to flights on their final approach to Newark
Liberty International Airport.
The Federal Aviation
Administration advised Paul that they would issue an advisory to
aircraft in the area. Paul said “numerous” 911 calls were received on
the evening of February 17th in Morris Plains, Morristown, Morris
Township, Hanover, Denville, Parsippany, Montville and the Morris County
Communications Dispatch center.
The lights appeared to be
traveling north, he said, and air traffic controllers at Morristown
Airport reported that they appeared to be at an altitude of about 2,500
feet. Dorian Vicente, 46, of Parsippany, said the lights caused traffic
to slow on Route 80 East in Denville at 8:40 p.m. as people watched them
There were nine lights,
she said, and they were scattered at first. Then she said they aligned
in a straight line. That’s when she and several other cars pulled to the
side of the highway to try and capture the lights on video. “It was the
weirdest thing,” she said.
Ray Vargas, a witness to the lights on February
17th, believed he witnessed something extraordinary. When interviewed by
the media he stated, “If it's a hoax, it's a real good hoax. There were
no flares, no streaks … they were almost as if they were communicating
with each other."
Officials with the
Morris County prosecutor’s office called the military and determined
that no military flights were in the area, Paul said.
prosecutor’s office also contacted the FAA, the Office of Homeland
Security and Preparedness, and the New Jersey State Police Regional
Operations Intelligence Center. “The investigation into this incident
will continue,” Paul said.