RCAF Claims Responsibility for Strange Lights over Lake Ontario

An image of the lights taken from Durand Eastman Park near Lake Ontario. (Image credit: Jon Maurer)

An image of the lights taken from Durand Eastman Park near Lake Ontario. (Image credit: Jon Maurer)

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is claiming responsibility for a series of strange lights over Lake Ontario that occurred on May 23rd.  The lights appeared around twilight, and had multiple people taking to social media to report their sightings.

According to Julie Brunet, a spokeswoman for the 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force that is based in Trenton, about 60 miles north of Rochester, the lights were caused by flare training taking place that evening.

"It's routine for us," said Brunet

Brunet says she is able to positively identify the objects in the posted photos as illuminated flares.

The RCA spokeswoman said that four and eight flares were dropped Tuesday night, May 23rd, between 9:30 p.m. and midnight, from a height of about 5,500 feet.  The training exercise was a practice run for when a rescue mission is needed in Lake Ontario.

"We call it flare illumination for search and rescue," said Brunet.

Each flare lasts four to five minutes and is described by Brunet as "pretty bright."

Canadian locals in Trenton were notified of the training exercise ahead of time by local public service announcements, but no such notice was given on the U.S. side of Lake Ontario.

"It's normal for us," said Brunet.

The unexpected lights definitely had people across the lake wondering, as seen in the tweets posted above.

This was reportedly the third such exercise in May, and at least one more will be held this month.  Exercises are expected to continue through June.

The training exercises are said to be routine, but Brunet had no explanation for why previous flare exercises have not raised similar alarms here.

"That's a good question. I won't be able to answer that," she said.

Also of interest is that Brunet claims the flares were dropped between 9:30 and midnight, but images were being posted to social media as early as 7:48 p.m. the night of the incident.

Many online are unconvinced by the RCAF's official explanation.

"I have photos of these lights aliens nope flairs not a chance one my time stamps say they where taken 45 minutes before Canada supposedl [sic] drop there [sic] flairs," said one commenter.  "Now I'm Shure [sic] Canada can get times right I mean we are talking about there [sic] military... Just saying all people want is the truth if it's top secret fine say so just don't friggin lie to everyone."

"Sooooo, flares defy physics or? These lights were elevating themselves in position for a long period of time. How does a flare float in the same spot, or move up and down, side to side, without any propulsion system?" commented another.

The U.S. Coast Guard says that they are currently investigating, but that they have ruled out basic flares as a source for the phenomenon.

Tobias Wayland