What did I see?
July 5, 2009 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Help me identify a strange floating orange dradle I saw in the sky yesterday morning in western VA.

It was about 6 am on a camping trip in western Virginia. I had just appeared from my tent and was getting water, and I looked up in the sky to see an orange boxy-looking thing drifting with the breeze below the broken clouds. I would say it was about 500-1000 feet up, and it looked like a huge bright orange dradle. The clouds were moving quickly and it was below them. Hanging from the dradle was a rope with something smaller on the end. I ran to get my camera, and got a shot off, but it was set on a 15" exposure from taking shots the night before, and after the 15 seconds the thing was gone :(
Any ideas what it was? I would think weather balloon apparatus (maybe the balloon was above the clouds and this sensor part was below?) I would love to see a picture to validate...
posted by joecacti to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can't find the word "dradle" in any dictionary I own. What does it mean to you?

Do you mean a "dreidel"? That shape can function as a kite.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:04 AM on July 5, 2009

I don't see any dreidels, but there was a hot-air balloon rally at VMI in Lexington, Friday and Saturday. Or maybe you saw something like a paraglider?
posted by steef at 11:14 AM on July 5, 2009

Response by poster: hmm... sorry, dreidel. i don't think it was a kite, because it was moving up near the clouds, and as fast as the clouds, not tethered to the ground. floating along... The clouds were moving quite fast out there yesterday. I'm thinking it may have been an instrument cluster (although a large one), and the balloon carrying it was much higher... Something like this picture:

posted by joecacti at 11:16 AM on July 5, 2009

Was it something like this?
posted by Climber at 11:36 AM on July 5, 2009

Response by poster: Well, I never saw the balloon part. The red part in that picture was an orange box, and maybe it was a box kite attached to a balloon above? Guess it'll remain a mystery, I've spent a bunch of time today searching google and flickr...
posted by joecacti at 4:38 PM on July 5, 2009


posted by MiggySawdust at 7:44 PM on July 5, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks Miggy, that's possible too. It would explain the orange color... But who's releasing a balloon at 6 AM on a pretty windy morning? Thanks to steef as well, it wasn't a paraglider (the shape was boxy), and we were in Gore, VA, Northwest of Lexington on a generally west-to-east wind period...
posted by joecacti at 6:29 AM on July 6, 2009

I was hoping the thread would get a definitive answer, but oh well.

I'm almost positive that I saw this or something very similar about twelve years ago in western Pennsylvania, although I would have described the color as a somewhat metallic warm red. Similar in color to what Climber posted, but not really in shape. There was some structure to it that made it appear more cylindrical and rigid (though dreidel is a good approximation too) than a normal balloon. It was hovering or drifting extremely slowly over the top of the hill upon which my house stood as I walked to the bus stop around 6:15 one morning before school. I didn't see anything that resembled a basket, and it looked unmanned. It made an intermittent, rhythmic sort of vhwooooming sound that I thought was a little like the release of gas in a regular hot air balloon, except much deeper and more machine-like. Hearing that quiet sound above my house is what made me look up in the first place- otherwise, I'm sure I would never have noticed it was there. I watched it for as long as I could before I had to run for the bus, and then followed it from the window of the bus until my line of sight was obscured by the other hills. At the time I thought "ah, it must be a weather or surveillance craft of some kind". But despite some searching and tentative asking around, I've never been able to find out what it was, and have had to write it off as something effectively inexplicable. If you do ever find out, memail me, hm?
posted by notquitemaryann at 8:41 PM on July 7, 2009

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