Bubba is photographed by Paul Weatherford on November 5, 1991 (Overall 18)

BUBBA does not go away: August 1991-1992

©Tim Printy October 2008

While Hyzer was declaring that the images exhibited signs of double exposure, Dr. Maccabee was concerning himself with the red UFO wave that continued in the skies over Gulf Breeze. Although there seemed to have been a lull in activity, things were about to pick up. Starting in September, activity jumped and Dr. Maccabee made a personal visit to the town in order to see for himself, this unusual phenomenon.

These new red UFOs seemed to exhibit a ring of lights or, as Bruce put it, appeared as a "chandelier in the sky" (Walters and Maccabee 186). In early September, the ring of lights had been seen on several nights. More importantly, several witnesses had reported that a dark mass above the ring had blocked out stars indicating a dark structure was either supporting the lights or the lights were attached to the structure of some dark object. This is what Zan Overall referred to as the Mark II wave:

Note that these new lights are a different color (amber) and much dimmer than the old RUFO, suggesting that this new era hoaxer has graduated from flares or some other incendiary device to incandescent lights with an onboard power source. This evolution suggests less a superhuman ET technology than a hoaxer breaking in a new act for his waiting GBRT audience. (Overall 18)

Activity starting in early September was occurring on almost every night. Dr. Maccabee had to go to Gulf Breeze to witness the events that were transpiring.

Dr. Maccabee's first night in Gulf Breeze was a bust but on the following night, he struck paydirt. On the 16th of September, at 8:33 PM, Dr. Maccabee was to come face-to-face with a UFO! Bruce explains the sequence of events:

Nancy Sharp was the first to notice something odd in the sky. Looking eastward into the glow caused by the city lights illuminating the hazy air she saw a dark form...She pointed out this dark form out to nearby witnesses just before it faded and disappeared. Several minutes later she realized that it had returned and she pointed, saying, "Look at that!" Moments later the lights appeared where the dark form had been. Someone shouted, "Look! There it is," and "It's a ring!" I heard the shout, looked up, and observed that a bright white spot of light had appeared in the glow of the hazy sky over Gulf Breeze ... I immediately raised the 8X50 binoculars to my eyes and the bright spot was resolved into an ellipse of eight lights which were very clear against the sky glow. They were "incandescent white," that is white with a very slightly yellowish tinge, like a crystal chandelier, just suspended in the sky ... The ring was visible for seventy seconds, during which it seemed to move toward us against the prevailing breeze. I did not notice any dark structure associated with the lights. Immediately after the lights "turned off" I carefully searched the sky where they had been, but I could see no evidence of any craft or any other type of object even though I was sure I could have seen any structure, even a one-foot balloon, silhouetted against the sky glow ... (Walters and Maccabee 189-90)

The sighting scopes were used that night, but it seemed they were not used in coordination. Despite having several months to perfect their abilities at recording data, the GBRT seemed to be less than skilled in execution. One scope was set for the initial phase of the event and the other was set for the end of the event. As a result the triangulation was less than accurate. Dr. Maccabee figured that the UFO was several thousand feet and maybe more than a mile away. The photograph of the UFO's angular diameter meant the UFO was 5-10 feet in diameter (for a distance of 4,000-8,000 feet) making it a very small UFO. Dr. Maccabee assumed the UFO was moving towards him against the wind but the exact opposite could have been true. If the UFO was moving with the wind, the direction would have been going away but this could easily have been misperceived as heading towards the group. Considering the entire event lasted just over a minute and Maccabee was switching between eyes and binoculars, it would be hard to determine if it were coming or going. Even more important is that if the UFO were heading towards them, then they would have seen the "dark shape" after the lights went off. After all, Nancy was able to see it before the lights came on. What would prevent them from seeing the shape after the lights went off if it had moved closer to them? A possible scenario is that it moved away and as a result, faded from view once the lights went off since it now further into the "haze" that Dr. Maccabee described.

The UFO wave continued during this period and the Gulf Breeze Research Team continued to watch. Amazingly, the team never bothered to extend their legs between sighting scopes to better fix the objects trajectory or path. Had they set up in three different locations and recorded the event with video cameras using fixed landmarks, they could have gathered more appropriate data. Instead, we find them using simple sighting scopes that may or may not have accurately recorded the location of the UFO at the precise moment in time the operators were sighting down the tubes. Other potential methods were never explored like the use of a video camera with an image intensifier to see the actual shape of the UFO behind the light. Additionally, despite all the activity in September, a helicopter or small aircraft was not considered to investigate the UFO (something that Zan Overall would suggest a few months later). It is almost as if the group was more interested in watching than conducting a scientific investigation.

On November 5th, the UFO was again sighted. This time, high-speed black and white film with a telephoto lens was used to record the UFO. The sequence of photographs showed the UFO start as a small object, increase in apparent size, and then decrease in size. The best image showed a circular light with, what appeared to be a "crown" of smaller lights surrounding it. From this, the witnesses concluded it was a UFO like those seen by Ed in 1987-88 and they were seeing the "power ring" with portholes. Of course, the power ring in the photographs was a solid circle and not a ring at all. Additionally, the "portholes" did not completely circle the craft. A video recording showed two lights, both initially red and pulsing. Dr. Maccabee assumes that the UFO was moving towards the witnesses against the wind and the image size could indicate this but the image seemed to have changed shape from exposure to exposure. A bright light would give a larger image through overexposure than a fainter light. Assuming the UFO took on the standard characteristics, it would start as a faint light, brighten and then fade away. This could explain why the images changed sizes. Since the images do not show the actual dark mass behind the lights, it is hard to determine if this was or was not the case. A sketch of a 1987 Ed Walters type UFO was published next to the image trying to match it with the pattern of lights photographed. The implication being that they had also photographed Ed's spaceship even though no structure can be seen in the photographs. Zan Overall notes:

... I believe one could look at the photograph as the result of a hoaxer's lofting a lighted object designed to resemble one of Walters' published photographs. I contend that any UFO that resembles a Walters photograph loses rather than gains credibility by that association. (Overall 18)

Dr. Maccabee does not give much in the way of where the object ended in the sky but he does indicate the UFO started in the southern sky at a relatively low elevation. I can only assume the object stayed in the same region of sky and then moved slowly upward in elevation since the images were pretty stable. If the UFO moved against the wind early on based on the image size, then it also moved with the wind later in the event. It is interesting to note that this UFO was only 5 feet across if seen from a distance of 2 miles! Clearly, the conclusions Maccabee has published are based on his interpretation of the data, which because of the poor quality of the work conducted by the research team, was not adequate to draw any firm conclusions.

An interesting story was told by Craig Myers concerning these events. He had been telling a friend the story about the model discovery and the potential for hoax when his friend made a rather startling revelation.

Toby was chuckling. At first I thought he was simply amused at my story. But when he started shaking his head as he laughed, I stopped my story.

“I know this guy,” Toby said.

“You mean Ed Walters?”

“Yeah, Ed built my house,” said Toby, who lived in Gulf Breeze with his wife and two young children. “You won’t believe this, but one day I went over to his house and he was doing something pretty strange.”

“…when I pulled up I saw Ed’s truck parked in front of the house with the tailgate down. And there in the driveway was this object. I got out of my car and walked up the driveway and saw that Ed was inside this thing, working on it. There were lights on the top of it, and an electrical cord running from under it to the garage. It had a plastic bubble on top. I walked up and I could see Ed under this thing working with some wires or something…”

“…he didn’t say anything about it. It didn’t seem like he was trying to hide it or anything. I talked to him for a minute or two and him the check. The whole time he was working under this…spaceship thing.”….

….Toby had said the disc appeared to be light weight, while the wooden legs were extremely solid. You would not need thick wooden posts to support something that light. I guess the legs were only a support to hold the UFO up while Ed worked on it. But no doubt it was meant to be suspended upside down. Otherwise the light on top would not have been visible. (Myers 181-2)

Toby drew what he had seen for Myers and stated he saw this in November of 1991. He remembers the date because of the check he handed to Ed. It was dated November 11th, less than a week after the November 5th event.

Drawing of a device that Toby saw in Ed's driveway on November 11, 1991. (Myers 182)

Despite being unable to come to grips on specifics regarding the UFO, the research team continued its surveillance of skies over Gulf Breeze. The criticism that the lights may be flares on balloons was beginning to concern the team and they wanted to put the question to rest. Dr. Maccabeee had given the team a diffraction grating to record the spectra of a flare and one of the UFOs. It took almost a year for the team to finally record the spectra of the UFO. This event occurred on February 7th 1992. The photographer was Ed Walters and the spectra showed a blue component to the light. When the road flare was recorded, no blue component was visible. Additionally, Dr. Maccabee notes the UFO spectrum did not indicate any hot gases demonstrating it was not a flare. Of course, this indicates that this specific UFO was not a flare but it does not rule out the possibility for flares/pyrotechnics for any of the other UFOs. It is interesting to note that Ed was able to get the first "usable" spectra of a UFO. If Ed were in on hoaxing this UFO wave, wouldn't he shift his light source to mask the use of flares? The spectrum is interesting but I find it simply amazing that Dr. Maccabee did not push for better use of the diffraction grating. One sample out of hundreds is not a very accurate representation of the entire lot. Failure of the team to actively pursue the use of the diffraction grating and other scientific instrumentation again demonstrated that the team was not too interested in resolving the issue.

By spring of 1992, the wave appeared to be dying out. About this time, Zan Overall published an interesting article in the International UFO Reporter concerning the Red UFO wave. He challenged Dr. Maccabee to make money available from the Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR) to hire a private plane/helicopter to help pursue the source and examine the RUFOs up close. This did not happen but it made people wonder why this option was not explored.

Meanwhile, television crews began to arrive in Gulf Breeze to record the events they had been hearing about. Jim Moore of Houston's KHOU-TV arrived with a camera crew and saw some red UFOs apparently orbiting each other. This happened on several occasions and one analysis showed the separation of the lights was 10-13 feet. Moore came back in May to see the UFOs again and came better equipped with two cameras. During the next UFO event on May 18, material was seen falling from the lights but this did not discourage Dr. Maccabee. In his analysis of the path, Bruce states the UFO moved towards the southwest at a rate of 20 to 50 mph against the breeze. Much of his flight path is through reconstruction and subjective measurements that, again, may or may not be 100% accurate. If the measurements were off by a few degrees, the speeds involved would drop significantly. Again, due to the inaccurate nature of these values, Dr. Maccabee's calculations can not be taken as hard facts. More importantly, when the videos were aired on WKRG-TV Mobile, Alabama, one observer noted, "you could see two parachute borne flares. You could see the burning material coming off them" (Klass 5). Could it be that the red UFOs were simply a hoax being observed by overzealous witnesses?

By summer, the wave had reached its final peak. There were some more sightings and videos but the last events were recorded in July of 1992. Amazingly, the Gulf Breeze Sentinel had been purchased a few months before and was no longer going to report UFO sightings. Could it have been just a coincidence the wave ended once publicity had been removed? Could it be just a coincidence that Overall's article a few months before, where he challenged Maccabee to get a plane/helicopter into the air to investigate these objects up close, chased the Red UFOs away?

Some UFOlogists and many skeptics consider the wave a clever hoax. Zan Overall noted that many MUFON members did see several RUFOs that were identified to be flares. Zan was quick to notice that Dr. Maccabee wrote "MUFON Members have watched carefully..." (Overall 17). Because they had to look carefully for identification, Zan recognizes, "This tells us that a hoaxed RUFO looks a lot like a "true" RUFO ... If some sightings are caused by balloons, why not all, with atmospheric conditions or distance making identification impossible in every instance" (Overall 17). Overall also noted that those sightings, which seemed to move against the wind, could easily have been balloons that were attached by tether to boats since many of the UFOs were plotted in tracks over the water. However, Maccabee dismisses this hoax hypothesis for these sightings:

If these were all hoaxes, then they constitute what must have been the most massive, expensive, and dangerous hoaxes in history. (What would happen if a flare fell on a house? What would happen if an airplane in its landing pattern ran into one of these things?) And for what? And if so, why has no evidence of hoaxing turned up by now? The only alternative to the massive hoax hypothesis is that they were a manifestation of the UFO phenomenon which had been recorded numerous times during the previous years in Gulf Breeze and which continues even to this day! (Walters and Maccabee 201-2)

Dr. Maccabee finds such events distressing but when has a prankster considered safety in the execution of a hoax? As for interfering with air traffic, wouldn't a UFO do the same thing? Why would the UFOs endanger themselves and other aircraft? What percentage of UFOs were seen in the airport's traffic pattern? As best I can tell, the value is low indicating a hoaxer knew better than to fly any balloons when they could cause a problem with air traffic.

Other concerns of Maccabee are easily answered. With the geographic layout of Gulf Breeze the lack of evidence could be explained by most of the debris to fall into the water. Materials that did fall on land may not be easily recognized as from a UFO hoax. Zan Overall noticed that in the October 1990 issue of Scientific American, had an inexpensive method to take aerial photographs using garbage bags filled with helium. If one found old garbage bags floating in the water or on the ground, how could one identify it as being used in a hoax? Is it possible that the hoaxer saw this article and it gave him ideas for new and better RUFOs?

Maccabee seems to live up to Phil Klass' statement about credulity. For someone, who thinks he is too smart to be fooled by another human being, the reasons for a hoax are not so obvious but to others the reason for such a complex hoax is not so difficult to understand. This would be to keep the story alive and reinforce the claims made by Ed Walters.

The claims of Ed Walters continued to be the subject of much criticism and it was Mr. William G. Hyzer and some "debunking" ufologists who would fire the next shot across the Gulf Breeze bow.

Works Cited

Klass, Philip. "Familiarity breeds contempt (Gulf Breeze Dept)." Skeptic's UFO Newsletter, July 1992.

Myers, Craig. War of the Words. USA Xlibris Corporation 2006.

Overall, Zan. "The Gulf Breeze RUFOs". International UFO Reporter. Vol 17 No. 2 (March/April 1992). 14-18.

Walters, Ed and Bruce Maccabee UFOs are real: Here's the proof. New York: Avon Books 1997.


Dueling analysts: 1992

The Ed Walters case directory

Back to My skeptical opinion about UFOs