There's No Law Against Flying a Super-Double-Secret, Gyroscoptic UFO

Linn Murphy with his homemade remote-controlled UFO.
Photo: Leonard Ortiz / The Orange County Register

51-year-old Irvine man named Linn Murphy has a strange hobby: the hoaxster likes to fly a homemade radio-controlled "UFO" over parks and public events which caused hundreds if not thousands of calls to the police!

Now, the jig is up:

[The UFO inventor, Steve Zingali] built one anyway. It flew, but couldn't handle the wind. So he tweaked a few things and doubled its span from 18 to 36 inches. A phenomenon was born. Soon, Orange County motorists were chasing strange lights in the sky. Orange County's Mutual UFO Network was taking calls about erratic, flying objects. And the Web site was posting reports of “glowing orbs” in south Orange County.

One 53-year-old man reported a large glowing ball that “appeared to drip fire.” It traveled about five miles in a few seconds, he said, and left an “acrid type odor” in the air.

Where? Right here. Right where Zingali is now connecting a 7.4-volt lithium battery to a foam toy with flashing lights that make it appear to spin. He starts the propeller and sends it into the night sky above the Aliso Viejo Town Center.

Voices rise as quickly as the UFO: “Oh my God.” … “UFO.” Shoppers gallop up the hill, including Haywood Bagley, who told his wife: “I hope they don't start shooting. If I go down, you get in the car, Baby.”

The police, to their credit, thought Linn and Zingali's shenanigans were kind of cool:

“We've had strange calls – people reporting UFOs and strange sounds in the air,” says Lt. Rich Paddock, police chief for Aliso Viejo. “But they're not doing anything illegal. There's no ordinance that says it's illegal to fly a super-double-secret, gyroscoptic UFO in county airspace.”

Link - Thanks Julie Anne!

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In upstate NY in the mid 80s, friends of ours who lived on a farm, built a "UFO" out of a chicken coop, Xmas lights, a horn and a car battery. I say "UFO" but actually it couldn't fly (a USO? unidentified sitting object?). We would pull it out into the middle of a field next to a rural road, hook up the battery, climb up into the trees and laugh at the folk who stopped. I remember one women in a Jeep screaming at her boyfriend to "Get back in the car NOW!" as he wandered over to look. Good times.
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