By Tim Binnall
What seems to be something of a mass UFO sighting occurred in the city of Wichita, Kansas last week and sparked debate among residents over what the odd object could have been. According to a local television station, the incident took place on Thursday afternoon and spawned hundreds of reports from bewildered witnesses. Although several observers managed to capture footage of the oddity and shared their videos on social media, discerning what exactly had caused such a stir is rather difficult.
By and large, witnesses reported seeing a bright, fast-moving object that one individual argued was not an airplane. 'We see airplanes all the time. We're near the airport," said resident Mike Marler, "it was definitely different." In an admirable albeit misguided attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery, TV station KAKE actually dispatched reporter Eli Higgins to fly over the city in a small plane. However by the time he took to the sky, the object was long gone.
Alas, speculation surrounding what the UFO could have been has largely centered around two down-to-Earth possibilities and not an extraterrestrial hypothesis. The first suspect is a strange-looking NASA aircraft known as the 'Super Guppy,' which just so happened to be in Wichita at the time. An even more prosaic possibility put forward by astute residents is that the 'UFO' was just a banner advertisement for the fast-food chain Arby's, which was also seen in the area on Thursday.
For his part, Marler acknowledged the "rumors that it was an Arby's advertisement plane" and conceded that "you know, logic would point to that," however he did sound entirely convinced, pointing out that the object "was really fast-moving, it was really bright and vivid, and then it just disappeared." Setting aside his misgivings, as he astute observed, the most plausible explanation for the UFO was either the Super Guppy or the banner ad or some combination of the two fueling confusion on the ground.