Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Search for Sasquatch Continues — With a Silent Airship

The Search for Sasquatch Continues — With a Silent Airship:

Image: William Barnes/Falcon Project

Residents of the Pacific Northwest who observe an airship hovering in the skies above need not be alarmed. It’s just a team of researchers searching for Sasquatch using cameras mounted on a remote-controlled blimp.
The airship is brainchild of William Barnes, a former fundraiser, gold miner, small business owner and self-described “ideas man” from Nevada City, California, who had an encounter with a Sasquatch (please, don’t call them “Bigfoot”) while panning for gold in the woods of northern California.
“My whole thought was, ‘I know they’re real — at least now I do,’” Barnes said, “So why can’t they film these in the wild?”
After 12 years of research and thought, Barnes reached the conclusion that it would be more effective to film a Sasquatch from the air. “They’re too skittish,” he said. “They don’t want to be bothered by people. They’re bipedal, but that doesn’t mean they’re human.”
Together with co-founder Jason Valenti, Barnes created the Falcon Project to obtain high-quality, aerial footage of a Sasquatch for use in a documentary he’s hoping to make in order to prove the existence of the ape-like bipedal humanoid. He teamed up with noted Sasquatch researcher Jeffrey Meldrum, a professor at Idaho State University who has aided the search for Sasquatch with a scientific approach, and is hoping to raise $310,000 in funding for the necessary equipment and $365,000 to cover the cost of spending seven days a week in the forests of the Pacific Northwest for six to nine months.
The Falcon Project has been ongoing for several years, ever since Barnes started tinkering with ideas for aerial filming platforms. He needed to find an unmanned aircraft that could hover for long periods of time, low enough to capture a photo but quiet and small enough not to disturb a Sasquatch. His search ended when he got in touch with Stephen Barkley of Aerial Tripods, a Canadian manufacturer of airships used in the film industry.
Barkley’s alcohol-powered, dual-engine, 45-foot Aurora Mk II airship is capable of four to six hours of unmanned flight, can turn on a dime, and is able to carry a payload of up to 85 pounds. That’s more than enough to carry the sophisticated thermal imaging camera equipment that the researchers in the field will use to zoom in on any suspected Sasquatches.
“We’ll use a wide lens while we’re flying,” Barnes said. “Once we see his signature we’ll put it to telescopic. If it’s something we want to investigate, we’ll slowly go in. We don’t even know how close we can get in to him — it’ll be trial and error.”
Even if he doesn’t get any big footage, we still think the quest is worthy of a film. But after his encounter, Barnes is a believer. He’s certain he’ll be able to get at least 45 minutes’ worth of a Sasquatch on film in its natural habitat.
“I had about a 90-second encounter about three feet away from him,” he said. “If it happened to me today and it had never happened before I’d probably have a heart attack.”

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