Bigfoot-hunting blimp? Symposium in Portland later this month

PORTLAND, Ore. - Bigfoot hunters who want to use a helium-filled airship to comb the woods for sasquatch plan a day-long symposium in Portland later this month.

The event is a fundraiser for the Falcon Project, billed by organizers as "the most penetrating search for the legendary sasquatch ever undertaken."

Olympia Beer will host the event June 22 in the Bossanova Ballroom, located at 722 East Burnside. The symposium will feature multimedia presentations, panel discussions and exhibits.

Admission is $25 in advance or $30 the day of the event.

The Falcon Project proposes an extensive aerial search for Bigfoot using a helium-filled airship carrying a platform supporting thermal-imaging and high resolution wireless videography equipment, according to Idaho State University.

The Aurora Mk II airship offers more stealth over a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft, according to Jeff Meldrum, Idaho State University professor of anatomy and anthropology and the Falcon Project principle investigator.

Meldrum said the airship permits approach and observation with minimal or no disturbance of the subject's natural behavior. The latter is critical for surveying in areas of dense stands of forest where a sustained vertical perspective is essential for locating animals on the forest floor, Meldrum said.

The unmanned, 45-foot dual airship can reach speeds of 35-45 mph and maneuver with the degree of precision necessary to track a fast-moving animal, Meldrum said.

The construction, instrument integration and flight training is being provided by Remote Aerial Tripods Inc. of Canada, with Stephen Barkley as lead designer of the Aurora Mk II.

Meldrum has been probing the question of sasquatch's existence for nearly 17 years, since examining a line of inexplicable 15-inch bipedal footprints in southeastern Washington, according to Idaho State University.

William Barnes is the Falcon Project founder and manager, with more than 25 years experience operating his own businesses, including gold dredging and marketing, Idaho State said. Barnes said he had an encounter with a sasquatch in 1997 and is motivated by the challenge of bringing definitive image evidence before the scientific community for the purpose of finally resolving the mystery of sasquatch.

In addition to Meldrum and Barnes, speakers at the Portland symposium will include John Bindernagel and Bill Munns. Special guest will be Bob Gimlin, witness to the famous Patterson-Gimlin film of a Bigfoot in northern California in 1967.