There are two ways to explain why Bigfoot can’t be found. There’s the conventional view--that Bigfoot doesn’t exist--and then there’s what we might call the Donald Rumsfeld view: that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.

In this view, we haven’t found Bigfoot because we haven’t looked hard enough. Specifically, we haven’t looked with drones. This is the raison d’etre of the Falcon Project.

It’s a kind of supernatural missing persons mission, calling for “eyes in the sky” in combination with a “quick response investigative ground team.” They would spend months at a time scanning undisclosed locations with high Bigfoot potential, hoping not only for irrefutable video, but to make contact.

To catch an unlikely creature, you need an unlikely drone: quiet enough to escape notice, sturdy enough to carry NASA-grade cameras and long-range enough to sweep vast swaths of potential Sasqautch stomping ground.

Hence the proposed solution, the falcon of the Falcon Project: a 48-foot double-blimp, catamaran-style airship, with a “proprietary” engine that can allegedly fly silently at speeds of 45 knots, stop on a dime and hover thousands of feet above the forest canopy.

2013-10-01

Co.Exist

This Drone Is Going To Find Bigfoot

The Falcon is a 48-foot-long blimp that can fly silently, equipped with a NASA-quality camera to pick out a giant ape from the sky. If it ever gets off the ground, it could finally confirm or deny the legend of the creature lurking in our forests.

There are two ways to explain why Bigfoot can’t be found. There’s the conventional view—that Bigfoot doesn’t exist—and then there’s what we might call the Donald Rumsfeld view: that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. In this view, we haven’t found Bigfoot because we haven’t looked hard enough. Specifically, we haven’t looked with drones.

This is the raison d’etre of the Falcon Project. It’s a kind of supernatural missing persons mission, calling for “eyes in the sky” in combination with a “quick response investigative ground team.” They would spend months at a time scanning undisclosed locations with high Bigfoot potential, hoping not only for irrefutable video, but to make contact. “You know, putting out a transmitter in a banana that can be passed through the gut and while it’s internal serve as a tracking device,” says principal investigator Jeff Meldrum. “Those kinds of things.”

Those kinds of things. As outlandish as the plan sounds, it has the imprimatur of Idaho State University, which set up an account to receive tax-deductible donations. The reason why is Meldrum. He’s the most reputable face not only of the Falcon Project, but of all Bigfoot belief. Meldrum is a tenured professor at ISU who teaches human anatomy and publishes papers on how (non-Bigfoot) primates walk. When I spoke with him, he was late because his students were busy cutting up cadavers. “We just did the abdominal wall and the inguinal canal,” he said.

But a sizable hunk of Meldrum’s CV falls under the category of “cryptozoology,” where he applies his knowledge of primate gaits to footprints identified by amateur Sasquatch-ologists. This work is published not in Science or Nature, but places like his own journal of Bigfoot Studies, the Relict Hominoid Inquiry. “Some would label me as a crackpot, and [say] that I’m an embarrassment to the university,” says Meldrum. But publicity is publicity. “ISU has in some ways been kind of put on the map as the only university that has a resident faculty member who is publishing on this subject,” says Meldrum. “And that’s noteworthy.”

Of course, if finding Bigfoot were as simple as strapping a GoPro to a quadcopter and heading for the forest, Meldrum would have more than footprints. “When you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, it’s not like you’re just flying over farmer John’s pasture to count how many white-tailed deer are coming out every night and bedding down in his alfalfa,” he says.

To catch an unlikely creature, you need an unlikely drone: quiet enough to escape notice, sturdy enough to carry NASA-grade cameras and long-range enough to sweep vast swaths of potential Sasqautch stomping ground. “The disadvantage of helicopters is obviously they’re noisy,” says Meldrum. “A fixed-wing aircraft has the disadvantage of not being able to hover.”

Hence the proposed solution, the falcon of the Falcon Project: a 50-foot-wide double-blimp, catamaran-style airship, with a “proprietary” engine that can allegedly fly silently at speeds of 45 knots, stop on a dime and hover thousands of feet above the forest canopy. The maker is a Canadian company that makes blimps for outdoor marketing campaigns: R.A.T.S. Inc.. (It stands for Remote Aerial Tripod Specialists, but the company's logo also includes the glowing face of a rat.)

The other big piece of technology in the project (also proprietary) is the “high definition thermal imaging” camera, created by Infrared Cameras Incorporated. “To our knowledge no company has used a telephoto lens of this size with an uncooled 1024 x 768 camera for such a project other than possibly the U.S. Defense,” avers the breathless description on the Falcon Project's defunct Kickstarter.

The fact that the Kickstarter page is defunct hints at the hurdle the project just can’t seem to clear: Money.

Meldrum and his prize.

The cost of the blimp is, according to Meldrum, between $220,000 and $260,000; the camera, another $60,000. Factor in a ground team, and odds and ends like a low-frequency “infrasound” system (in case the Bigfoot happens to communicate like whales) and the total price tag rises to upwards of $400,000 for the first year of operation. When Meldrum was brought onboard, he says the project’s “owner and founder” William Barnes—who claims to have encountered Bigfoot in a pup tent in northern California while out dredging for gold—had private philanthropists lined up, but they seem to have gotten cold, normal-sized feet.

Given the shortage of foundations dedicated to finding unseen, potentially nonexistent apes, the Falcon Project has turned instead to Joe Sasquatch-hunter. “I expected a groundswell of support from the Bigfoot community,” Meldrum says. But the Kickstarter campaign closed after 45 days with $11,865, at only 3% of its goal. Meldrum says a subsequent fundraiser in Portland, Oregon, this June barely broke even, when just a handful of people showed up. “That is not just a fluke, that’s an entire community turning its back,” says Meldrum.

It could be that the “Bigfoot community” has doubts about the technology (which Meldrum admits he has not seen in action) or are simply unwilling to put their money where their Bigfoot-believing mouths are. But Meldrum also cites “bad blood” from those who see Bigfoot not as an elusive animal, but something close to human. “They saw this process as intrusive, invasive of their privacy, as molesting or harassing the population,” says Meldrum.

Despite its struggles, the Falcon Project is not yet dead. “We have ideas,” says Meldrum. They could charge for a livestream of the Bigfoot blimp-cam. They could charge to see Meldrum’s footprint collection in various Las Vegas casino lobbies. Or they could just sell T-shirts of the footprints. “They were hits down at Comic-Con,” says Meldrum. “I guess there was quite a cryptozoology presence down there.”

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10 Comments

  • Michael Cohen

    The National Park Service banned drones in June 2014 because 'they bother the animals." I think the real reason for this banning is that the government does not want any good videos of these animals which can be put on the net and cause a lot of problems. Anyway there is no doubt that the government knows about them because their drones can follow them day or night.

  • GeorgeC.

    Meldrum just doesn't realize that people aren't laughing with him, they're laughing AT him.

  • Mike Lovett

    I think it will just create more questions that actually solve or find the enigma known as Big Foot. If it were that simple, there lair or sleeping places would have been found long ago. I want to believe it them, I really do. But the fact is, a few foot prints (and no long trails of footprints in mud, right? Why only one, two at most?), no dens, no sleeping nests, no mass amounts of lost hair from shedding (you can find bear hair, moose hair, deer hair, ALL other mammal hairs in the woods EASILY--why not this creature?) and a few questionable photos does not a creature make.
    I am quite confident that these creatures people believe they have seen are in fact other known mammals, like bears. If these stories existed in the remote areas of Russia's Siberian forests, which are some of the most remote and uninhabited and pristine landscapes on the planet, I would go "OK, maybe". But they do not have these stories there. And they have everything else the USA does that nobody else has--bison to be specific. So the mammals that traveled across the land bridge to North America millennia ago came from Russia.
    Sorry, there is not Bolshoi Noga, so no Big Foot in N. America.

  • Erich JerZey Berger

    There is many "yeti" aka "menk" stories in Russia. Including a group of 9 individuals that went camping in the mountains of western Russia that were killed by a menk or menks (yetis). There are stories in Indonesia called the orang pendek a smaller 4ft tall ape man. The yeren of China, the yowie in Australia, the sisimite in Central and South America, and of course are hometown legends grassman, woodbooger, skunk ape, and the king...Sasquatch. Native people across the world for thousands of years documented in drawings, carvings, and word of mouth passed down stories of ape man for countless generations. Don't forget the very real creature Giganto pithicus blackei, which was the real deal big bipedal ape that died out 20,000 or so years ago. The only reason this creature was discovered because muller teeth were found for sale in a shop in China I believe. Which lead investigators to search more and happened to find other giganto teeth. Do your research.

  • Rishy Fishy

    they don't exist. and even if bigfoot existed, they would be hiding they're tracks, and destroying as much evidence as possible, because they are smart enough to know that if they don't cover up, humans will speed up they're extinction process

  • Daisuke696

    this is so stupid, of course Bigfoot is not real. if they are they must be immortal since nobody has ever found a Bigfoot corpse laying around or buried somewhere, hell we found dinosaurs from a billion years ago and we can't find a single trace that leads us to this giant? Yeah. and instead of doing something productive or helpful with that money, i don't know like feeding the poor, homeless, helping the environment recover from us, etc. but no we NEED to have a new flying toy don't we?

  • Daisuke696

    this is so stupid, of course Bigfoot is not real. if they are they must be immortal since nobody has ever found a Bigfoot corpse laying around or buried somewhere, hell we found dinosaurs from a billion years ago and we can't find a single trace that leads us to this giant? Yeah. and instead of doing something productive or helpful with that money, i don't know like feeding the poor, homeless, helping the environment recover from us, etc. but no we NEED to have a new flying toy don't we?

  • Jd_42

    From my outside perspective, this drone project speaks more to the spectators of the "Squatchin" community, not exactly to the core believers themselves. In the end, the Bigfoot believers community want the alleged animal to be found by another human with all the trappings of the story of how it went down. Like christmas morning, or when you first said hi to the love of your life. I don't think they (or most) want a "christmas" event without a Santa Clause so to speak.
    Perhaps a kickstarter with the involvement of Les Stroud (of Survivorman tv show) with the aim of encountering Bigfoot face to face could get funded?

  • George Lucas

    After seeing like Less Stroud I am for sure of the existence of this elusive beast. I have read everything in print and watched hundreds off videos. Confirmed hair of unknown ape and very early reports of contacts made by Pathfinders only confirm there existance. My only hope is that Stroud spends enough time to provide video. I hAve great faith that he can and will provide the evidence needed to prove there existence.

    finders