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In UFO lore, there are a number of archetypal shapes attributed to the anomalous craft spotted by some lurking in the skies above: obviously, the ‘saucer’ being the most well-known, but also often reported are other shapes like the ‘cigar’ and the ‘triangle’.

The latter type of UFO was discussed in an essay by UFO researcher Richard Dolan back in the early 2000s, “What are the Triangles?“. Dolan noted that ‘Triangle’ sightings come in a wide variety: some are small, some are absolutely huge. They alternatively move incredibly slowly and silently – somewhat of an anomaly for an aircraft – or perform impossibly fast and agile manoeuvres.

Robert Bigelow’s turn-of-the-millennium paranormal investigation group the National Institute of Discovery Science (NIDS) looked into the large, silent triangle UFO type – or as they termed them, ‘Big Black Deltas’ – and concluded that they were airships:

NIDS makes the case that Big Black Deltas, or BBDs, are U.S. Defense Department airships. They are so large they can carry massive payloads at low altitudes, cruising at speeds three to five times as fast as surface ships.

Among a range of NIDS observations, the group believes the BBDs are powered by electrokinetic/field drives, or airborne nuclear power units. These craft also fly at extreme altitudes, high above conventional aircraft and the pulsing of ground-based traffic control radar.

Elecrokinetic propulsion means that no propellers or jets are used. A hybrid lighter-than-air craft would rely on aerostatic, lift gas, like a balloon. No helicopter-like downwash would be produced. Except for a slight humming from high-voltage control equipment — and in older BBD versions an occasional coronal discharge — a Big Black Delta makes no noise.

Could that explanation be the truth behind one of the most famous sightings of a triangle-shaped UFO – if it was indeed a single craft, rather than multiple craft in formation, or flares as one of the more prominent explanations claims: the ‘Phoenix Lights‘ incident in March 1997, in which a massive, illuminated ‘V’ or triangle-shaped object was spotted by many people over Nevada and Arizona?

Now, a new interview posted by Brett Tingley on The War Zone blog has rekindled that mystery. The interview with John Powell, the founder of spaceflight start-up JP Aerospace, is ostensibly about the company’s left-field plans to reinvent the paradigm of how we reach space, through the use of massive (2000 feet long!) lighter-than-air craft. It’s a fascinating article worthy of reading for that reason alone (strangely enough, since my childhood I’ve always wondered if airships could be used to reach space in a safer manner than rocketry…turns out, that just might be so, when done right).

Inflated airship spacecraft prototype from JP aerospace

But in the interview, Tingley – who has written a number of times on The Warzone recently on UFO-related topics – also throws in a query about whether prototypes of these ‘spacecraft’ might have been behind the Phoenix Lights incident:

Many of the images of JP Aerospace vehicles both prototype and in development may look familiar to those aware of incidents of alleged unidentified aircraft over the last few decades. As an aside to our interview with JP Aerospace’s John Powell, we asked Powell how possible he feels it could be, based on his experience, that the USAF or another military/governmental body may be operating “black” or off-the-books lighter-than-air craft which might explain some of these reported sightings.

Powell’s answer was circumspect, and he denied that it might have been one of his company’s craft – but he did acknowledge that it’s quite possible that the Phoenix Lights ‘UFO’ might have belonged to one of his competitors and/or the Department of Defence:

Here I must tread a little delicately. We have built several airships and other vehicles for various DOD agencies. None of our programs were classified. However, after completion and delivery, our vehicles entered into programs of which I have no knowledge.

We were testing vehicles at the time of the Phoenix lights incident, however, I can absolutely say that JPA was not, nor [was] our equipment, involved.

There have been times where our vehicles have been sighted and confused for UFOs or other mysterious things. I have also seen images of great vee-shaped objects in the sky that I can say for sure were not mine, but I could note perhaps the tech of a competitor. This is all speculation.

So, no definitive answer. But as always: if we know they were flying massive airships like this a couple of decades ago, what sort of size and capabilities do the craft that have remained secret have?