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For a brief shining moment last month, certain pockets of the internet were abuzz about strange lights over Whidbey Island. Was it a missile from the naval base? A lightning strike? Interstellar visitors???

Theories of varying degrees of plausibility appeared in comments sections on sites as far away as the UK. But then our own Airlift Northwest shot them all down: the lights were in fact from Airlift 5, N952AL, on a standard flight from Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton to St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham. As Airlift explained on Twitter, the chopper’s search light was on and facing straight down. The time-lapse weather cam photo that circled online happened to make an interesting trail.

The Airlift Northwest team had a bit of fun with the notoriety: “Well, it looks like our suborbital patient transit system has been discovered…Just kidding,” its Twitter account quipped.

Sample the coverage — and some comments from the tinfoil hat folks — below.

UW meteorologist’s blog:

and follow-up post:

Excellent analytical post:


Fox Q13 news:

Daily Mail:

map of the helicopter's flight path



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