Friday, January 25th, 2013, at 8:35 PM, I was driving down the North Road, near the East End School, in Portland, Maine. I was driving in a northerly direction, about 20 MPH, and saw lights moving in a southerly direction. They were so distinct that I quickly stopped to observe them.
So I'm looking to my left (west) and I see these strange lights moving pretty fast, not supersonic but I'm guessing about 720 mph. (See below.)
They were 6 of them, in a formation that changed as they moved. It initially looked like two in the lead, side by side, two following in a straight line between the two leading, and two more in the rear that were side by side. The formation appeared to change as they moved along. They appeared to come closer to the earth, then moved up in height and veered toward the west, disappearing into the night sky. This whole thing took place in a period of maybe 2 minutes or less.
I was cursing myself for not having my camera, which I almost always have, but then thought I might as well do what I can with the iPhone.
They had a strange light that looked like an umbrella, actually more like an inverted U, and they glowed with a bit of orangeness. There was no flickering. And they looked nothing like an airplane. I wondered if they could be helicopters and cranked down my window and there was no noise, from anything, even on the ground. There was no traffic and it's a quiet area of Portland. Besides, I've seen many helicopters at night over the years and these were much higher (I'd guess maybe 1-2 thousand feet) and were moving in a way that was unfamiliar to me.
I am including the pictures I took with my iPhone4S, with explanatory notes. I have not edited these pictures at all.
This first shot was taken at 8:35:27. I don't know the source of the light pollution on the right of the picture. The objects were heading southwesterly and beginning to ascend.
This second shot was taken at 8:35:32. An expert on speed/distance might be able to calculate the speed of the objects by comparing the movement with the times shot. I'm guessing at distances but looking at the map, am estimating they would have traveled from an area around Windham, Me, to somewhere around Waterboro, Me. in the approximate 2 minutes I watched them. This would put their speed at 720 miles per hour if I'm right.
The third shot was taken at 8:35:50. Note the comparative distance traveled in 18 seconds. Speed? See above.
This last shot was taken at 8:36:41. This was 51 seconds later and the first two of the lights had ascended, moving towards the southwest, and disappeared in the night sky.
Finally, the time from the first shot to the last shot was 1 minute, 14 seconds. If they were traveling 720 miles per hour, this would mean they covered about 35 miles while I watched, including about 45 seconds before I started taking the pictures. This seems approximately right.