Radio-Control Model Leads To Sightings
A radio control model
airplane hobbyist has a strange sense of humor that has people
looking to the skies over Southern California.
Hoaxmaster Linn Murphy has reportedly fooled thousands. But now,
it appears, the jig is up, according to the Orange County
In his hometown of Irvine, Murphy is equal parts rebel, nerd and
celebrity -- a man who has spiked Orange County's unidentified
flying object sightings for the past three years, with a foam toy
three feet in diameter.
The Register reports Murphy has emptied bars, distracted
football games and brought cars to a halt. The man has generated
hundreds, if not thousands, of calls to police... and dozens of
videos on UFO Web sites.
"All the police know me," he likes to say of his nightly
obsession - flying radio-control planes shaped like saucers with
lights. "It's never boring. Every night is different, " said
Murphy got his start in the hobby from model radio control
airplane enthusiast Steve Zingali, who introduced the UFO.
One 53-year-old man reported a large glowing ball that "appeared
to drip fire." It traveled about five miles in a few seconds, he
said, and left an "acrid type odor" in the air.
At 400 feet altitude, the UFO (which weighs about a pound) looks
like a mammoth spacecraft miles away, dancing, diving, hovering,
and flitting away.
Zingali and Murphy say they love the "gotcha" element of fooling
people... in fact, it's why they fly.
"I like to fly, land and leave," says Murphy, a self-employed
entrepreneur whose stories usually end with the phrase, "I got
Like the time an Irvine police officer threatened to cite
"I said, 'Sir, unless you're with the FAA, my lights are not
causing a disturbance. And unless you can show me a code we're
breaking, I think we're going to continue to fly." (The police
later invited him to fly his UFO in front of the station.)
Another time he flew over a Huntington Beach mall and a woman
ran up saying, "Oh my gosh, did you see it? There was a UFO bigger
than my house!" (He showed her the UFO in his trunk.)
Or the time he crashed his UFO on the roof of a Barnes &
Noble. "I walked in," he says. "The manager saw me with my radio
around my neck saying I lost my UFO, and thought I was odd."
She refused to get it, so he called the police, who recovered it
"We've had strange calls -- people reporting UFOs and strange
sounds in the air," says Lt. Rich Paddock, police chief for Aliso
Viejo. "But they're not doing anything illegal. There's no
ordinance that says it's illegal to fly a super-double-secret,
gyroscoptic UFO in county airspace."