Poor visibility and high altitude, plus the aircraft's unconventional design might produce some wild theories (photo of BETA in Vermont edited to illustrate)

On Sunday, May 28th, Indiana residents reported a pearl-colored, high-altitude “cigarette” buzzing the Monroe County Airport west of Bloomington, Indiana. Less than a minute after the odd-looking craft passed the airport, two jets streaked by the airport, seemingly trailing the cylinder.

First the pearl looking thing coasted over the sky and my daughter yelled “daddy, daddy, a rocket ship!” Went to the front yard and looked up and saw it. Have no idea what it is. Went to the backyard where the neighbors were outside and told them what we just saw. It had disappeared by the time we got to the backyard but then all of us saw a white cigarette object that I think might be a drone. About 30 seconds later there’s a high altitude jet heading in the direction of both the “pearl” and the “drone” and then second jet doing the same thing about a minute later.

~Reddit User Up-Tuck

Location of Monroe County Airport (the shaded circle west of Bloomington)

Although some strange suggestions have flooded social media concerning this possible UFO, its identity is no mystery at all: it was a touch-and-go flyby of BETA Technologies’ ALIA-250c electric aircraft.  BETA Technologies, a cutting-edge electric aviation company based in Vermont, had scheduled a flyover of the Monroe County Airport today, although no official media announcement had been made.

As reported by the regional news outlet The Bloomingtonian, the ALIA-250 flew “into BMG Jet Center at the Monroe County Airport on May 28, 2022, in Bloomington, Indiana. The aircraft had left earlier Saturday from an airport in Springfield, Ohio, and after recharging will fly west from Bloomington.”

As seen in this sketch, the ALIA’s odd profile, combined with its visibility at high altitude, would indeed seem to be a “white cigarette object.”

The New York Times nicknamed the ALIA the “Battery That Could Fly” in an April 2022 article.  That’s no joke. If successful, this aircraft will revolutionize the transportation and passenger industry. It weighs only three tons and can travel up to 170 miles per hour with a range of 250 nautical miles at a jaw-dropping altitude of up to 8,000 feet (drones are regulated to 400 feet). The secret, besides its proprietary battery, is the vehicle’s twin rotor systems which provide separate lift and thrust…while producing zero emissions. All this from a battery that charges in less than one hour.

For BETA, being “under the radar” is nothing new. Founded only five years ago by idiosyncratic entrepreneur/engineer Kyle Clark (a six-and-a-half foot tall Harvard graduate who played the enforcer for a minor league hockey team, then left the rink behind for electric aviation), BETA Technologies raised almost $400 million in financing last year, manufacturing not only the aircraft, but the logistics network needed to support them; e.g. charging stations and batteries.

Global heavies like Amazon, UPS, and even the US military have all voiced tremendous (read as money, money, money) interest. UPS even put it in writing last year. The shipping corporation promised to pay between $4-5 million for each delivered ALIA aircraft.

We’ll have to wait and see, though. While a dead battery on a highway might be an inconvenience, a dead battery a mile above the ground is a death sentence; because of this, no electric aircraft has EVER been certified for commercial use by the Federal Aviation Administration. BETA Technologies hopes to change that.

A dramatic photo of the ALIA-150c, provided by BETA Technologies

Not sure who or what the two trailing jets were though. Aliens?