LEAD BALLOON? Chris Mellon talks physics-defying UFOs with a suspected helium balloon on screen.
The still image of the so-called “white tic tac UFO” was screened during a major conference when former US government and military insiders were brought to together by former Blink 182 singer Tom DeLonge for his new alien research group To The Stars Academy.
The photograph was shown during an October 2017 presentation by academy member Chris Mellon, who served for almost 20 years in the US federal government in a series of national security positions.
Its use appeared to suggest the image showed the “Nimitz UFO” encountered by a US Navy crew off the coast of San Diego in November 2004.
The UFO, which was also captured on Navy radar video camera, was said to “defy the laws of physics” in its movements.
With a large version of the still image behind him on a screen, Mr Mellon told reporters: “Clearly this is not a US experimental aircraft, but whose is it?
“How did it accomplish these feats?
UFNO! The To The Stars Academy team under a huge picture of the balloon during the launch.
Truth of the matter is… it was taken in Eccles, Manchester and I investigated the case. Likelihood… it was a novelty balloon, a number ‘one’.
“This story may sound like a sci-fi movie, but it is a true story, and far from being the only one of its kind.”
Details of the case went on to make international headlines with the image of the alleged UFO even being screened by US TV news station Las Vegas Now.
However, Express.co.uk can reveal the picture was not taken in San Diego in November 2004, but in Eccles, Manchester, in July 2005.
Worse still, it is not even a UFO, but believed by UFO investigators to be a helium party balloon in the shape of the number one.
The embarrassing revelation has cast doubt among some on the credibility of the To The Stars Academy, which was hailed as a turning point in the quest for the truth about UFOs by many investigators due to the backgrounds of many of its key members.
The academy has been crowdfunding to raise cash to enable its research and has so far pulled in more than $2.3 million (£1.7m) from 2,580 investors.
The picture and others of the same balloon can still be seen in a July 2005 report on conspiracy theory Rense.com by Manchester UFO investigator Steve Mera.
Mr Mera said he investigated it at the time and later concluded it to be a floating party balloon.
He told Express.co.uk: “Truth of the matter is… it was taken in Eccles, Manchester and I investigated the case.
“Likelihood… it was a novelty balloon, a number ‘one’.
“Someone manipulated the photo a little by increasing its brightness.”
Debunking website Metabunk.org has picked up on the inaccurate use of the image.
BALLOON: A screen grab from the Rense.com aricle in 2005 shows the image top right.
Metabunk administrator Mick West said on the website forum: “However this ‘UFO’ image is in fact of a mylar party balloon.
“This object, and the described motion, is a perfect match for a mylar party balloon in the shame of a “one”, a common digit in party celebrations.”
Metabunk discovered the image had been used in an earlier article about the Nimitz UFO which was published on Fightersweep.com in March 2015.
There was, however, no caption saying what the image was in that article.
The Fightersweep.com Nimitz UFO article in March 2015 used the image with no caption.
DEBUNKED? Metabunk.org wades into the debate comparing the image to a party balloon.
The same article was referenced by Mr Mellon in his presentation, and it may be that it was taken from there in good faith in the belief that it was a genuine image from the Nimitz UFO incident.
At the academy launch in October, Mr DeLonge said its members were “principle players with the highest credentials,” however, the balloon revelation has led to claims casting doubt on the ability of the academy for thorough investigation.
In Mr West’s view, it shows very poor research on the part of the academy.
He added: “I think the use of that image was a mistake. They are just not very good at investigating.”
Tom DeLonge won UFO researcher of the year in 2017 from Open Minds TV.
Tom DeLonge suggested this hoax CGI footage was leaked genuine video of a TR-3B.
It is not the first time pictures or footage used by the academy to show alleged “genuine UFOs” have been called into question.
In November we revealed how Mr DeLonge used hoax CGI footage of an alleged “TR3B triangle UFO”, claiming it was a leaked genuine video.
Express.co.uk contacted Mr DeLOnge at the time about the hoax video, but received no response.
We contacted the academy again through its press agency to ask for comment on how the image of the Manchester balloon came to be used as evidence for the Nimitz UFO and we await a response after 48 hours.