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By Damien Gayle
Published: 12:56 BST, 15 October 2012 | Updated: 17:50 BST, 15 October 2012>
A U.S. venture plans to use a remote-controlled 'stealth' airship to hunt for signs of Bigfoot in the mountains of California.
The Falcon Project claims to be the first organisation to employ an airborne strategy in an attempt to detect evidence of the semi-mythical hominid.
They hope to use a helium-filled airship carrying thermal imaging and high resolution wireless cameras to approach and observe Bigfoot with 'minimal or no disturbance of the subject’s natural behaviour'.
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Stealthy: An artist's impression of the Aurora airship that Project Falcon hopes to use to conduct a thorough search of the California mountains to find evidence of Bigfoot
'The Aurora Mk II airship offers major advantages over similar applications with helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft platforms, foremost, stealth and manoeuvrability,' the company claims.
Described as a large, bipedal hairy humanoid creature living in remote wilderness areas of the United States and Canada, Bigfoot - also known as Sasquatch - has only ever been pictured once in grainy footage.
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The evidence for the existence of what is believed could be a species of North American Ape is almost entirely supported by anecdotal evidence, tracks and hair samples classified as an unidentified primate.
Some claim it is a creature which may be found around the world under different regional names, such as the Yeti, or is at least a closely related species.
Now the Falcon Project, founded by William Barnes, a gold dredger who claims to have sighted Bigfoot in 1997, hopes to gather definitive proof that Bigfoot exists in the form of clear, steady film footage of the creature in its natural habitat.
The only video evidence so far: This film was shot in California in 1967 by former rodeo rider Roger Patterson. The Project Falcon team hope to capture fresh indisputable footage
The only video evidence of Bigfoot captured to date is the famous Patterson film captured by former rodeo rider Roger Patterson in California in 1967. The film has been subject to many debunking attempts but Mr Patterson insisted on its authenticity until his death in 1972.
Now the Falcon Project team hope that any fresh video evidence of the sasquatch could earn them an 'instantaneous windfall in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.'
'The Falcon Project was formed for the purpose of acquiring motion picture evidence of a Hominoid,' the company says.
'Our competitive advantage, relative to other Hominoid research organizations, is that we are employing technology that no one else possesses.'
The project will use an unmanned 45ft dual airship - the Aurora - equipped with a proprietary propulsion system to give it a claimed top speed of 35-45mph, manoeuvrable 'with the degree of precision necessary to track a fast-moving animal'.
WHAT ARE THEY LOOKING FOR?
Bigfoot is described in reports as a large hairy ape-like creature, in a range of 6–10ft tall, weighing in excess of 500lb, and covered in dark brown or dark reddish hair.
Self-styled witnesses have described large eyes, a pronounced brow ridge, and a large, low-set forehead; the top of the head has been described as rounded and crested, similar to the sagittal crest of the male gorilla.
Bigfoot is commonly reported to have a strong, unpleasant smell by those who claim to have encountered it.
The enormous footprints for which it is named have been as large as 24in long and 8in wide. While most casts have five toes — like all known apes — some casts of alleged Bigfoot tracks have had numbers ranging from two to six.
Some have also contained claw marks, making it likely that a portion came from known animals such as bears, which have five toes and claws.
Some proponents have claimed that Bigfoot is omnivorous and mainly nocturnal.
Cameras that can view and film in infrared, thermal imaging and High Definition will be fitted onto the Aurora using a gyro-stabilised camera mount so that if Bigfoot is located the images will be clear and steady.
The Aurora will be deployed in selected areas of appropriate habitat where reports suggest sasquatch may range.
The Falcon Project claim the stealth and manoeuvrability of the airship gives it major advantages over helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft.
The company says: 'From what research suggests, everything that we have done on the ground has been ineffective in getting close to them; therefore a perspective from the sky, with an imaging platform to zoom in on them quickly and track their position, seems to be the most logical way for us to pursue motion picture evidence.
Bigfoot expert: Dr Jeff Meldrum of Idaho State University will coordinate the research as principal investigator on the project
'We believe that this ground-breaking technology will give us the element of surprise in catching Hominoids on film.
'A dual airship can track a Hominoid even if it is running at top speed or climbing a mountain. A human on foot cannot.
'Further, the dual airship will provide the best chance at obtaining the long-awaited steady camera that has, as yet, been missing from ALL films of Hominoids in existence, because our dual airship will be fitted with a gyro to provide image stabilization.'
The research is to be coordinated through Idaho State University, with Dr Jeff Meldrum, professor of anatomy and anthropology, acting as principal investigator.
Dr Meldrum, one of the few academics to back the existence of Bigfoot, has been probing the question of sasquatch’s existence for nearly 17 years, ever since examining a line of inexplicable 15in bipedal footprints in south-eastern Washington state.
He is the author of one of the most authoritative treatments of the subject, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science and has published a number of scientific papers examining the footprint evidence.
Dr Meldrum said: 'Even if definitive DNA sequence data point to the existence of a novel species it will not suddenly become easy to study such a rare and elusive primate in the field.
'That’s where the Falcon Project comes in.'
Most scientists discount the existence of Bigfoot and consider apparent sightings to be a combination of folklore, misidentification and hoax.
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Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2217965/Can-stealth-airship-finally-capture-definitive-video-evidence-Bigfoot.html