National Institute for Discovery Science


Home > NIDS Research > Illinois UFO Sighting Report Table of Contents


One of the police eyewitnesses testified that the craft he observed bore an unusually close resemblance to the artist's impression of a stealth blimp published in the September 1999 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine ("Skunk Works Magic" by Jim Wilson). Further, there was other speculation that the observed craft bore a resemblance to a revolutionary hybrid lifting body that was tested, flown, and patented by Aereon Corporation of Princeton, NJ. The story of the development of the Aereon hybrid craft is publicly available and is the subject of an engaging book called The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed by John McPhee. In order to examine the Aereon hypothesis, the following information was obtained from a senior official at Aereon Corporation.

Stealth Blimp

The Aereon craft is an unusual one that combines the lifting capabilities of conventional aircraft with the lighter than air capabilities of a blimp. A working prototype, called the Aereon 26, which is 26 feet in length, was successfully flown in August 1970. The craft when flown did not need the lighter than air buoyancy to achieve take-off, but rather, much larger versions of the craft (longer than 150 feet) were envisaged to contain Helium.

  • In the mid 1990s Aereon Corporation obtained seed money from the military to develop what Aereon's 1990 patent was written for—a deltoid lifting body containing three 50 foot radar antennae. The official at Aereon stated emphatically and repeatedly that the craft was never built, at least at Aereon. Funding became a big problem. Drawings of the large Aereon craft in the Aereon patent (Patent Number 4,896,160 on January 23, 1990) are publicly available (see sketch below) and can be compared against the sketches and testimony of the police officers.

  • The Aereon spokesperson was up-front and stated that the Aereon 26, as detailed in "The Delta Pumpkin Seed," is the biggest Aereon ever built. The vision back in 1970 was that there would be 800 foot Aereons deployed both in the civilian and military sectors.

  • The senior official at Aereon was aware that Microcraft, Inc. recently announced that it had obtained money to build a "revolutionary" hybrid blimp. The "revolutionary" design is actually 30 years old now according to Aereon's spokesperson. It is a joint project with NASA Ames, NASA Dryden, Lockheed Skunkworks, and American Blimp Company of Oregon. This craft is still in the early stages of planning and has not yet been built.

  • After NIDS described the reports from the different sightings at Illinois to the Aereon spokesperson, he speculated that if a large Aereon type craft is flying, then it represents a stolen patent by persons unknown. All of the original patents that Aereon filed have expired but the important one is the radar array patent (January 23, 1990) which is still active.

In summary, the possibility of a near neutral buoyancy, rigid hulled aircraft cannot be ruled out. The description fits most of the flight characteristics from the witnesses including the slow speed and lack of noise. Why a secret aircraft would be operating fully illuminated at low altitude near populated areas remains unexplained. Further, according to two police eyewitnesses, the craft seems to have the ability to accelerate fairly rapidly, which also seems incongruous with known capabilities of such craft.


Home > NIDS Research > Illinois UFO Sighting Report Table of Contents